Directors to Watch: Izer Aliu on «To Guard a Mountain»

Directors to Watch: Izer Aliu on «To Guard a Mountain»

– Since I have a younger brother myself, I always kept thinking how it would be to carry your dead brother home. I didn’t want to think about it, but I just couldn’t stop.

Ten short films from Nordic “Directors to watch” follows the December issues of the Nordic film magazines RUSHPRINT in Norway, EKKO in Denmark, Episodi in Finland and FLM in Sweden. One of the directors is Izer Aliu with «To Guard a Mountain».

– How did you get the idea for the film?

“When I was a kid I wanted to know more about my grandfather who died at an early age and I never really got to know him. To remedy this, my grandmother used to tell me stories about him. One of these stories was about my grandfather and his two brothers when he was around ten years old. The story goes that my grandfather and his younger brothers were out herding cows when a lightning struck the youngest of the brothers, who was around six years old. The remaining two brothers then had to carry the dead body of their sibling home. Of all the stories about my grandfather, this is the one that I’ve kind of meditated on for a long time. Since I have a younger brother myself, I always kept thinking how it would be to carry your dead brother home. I didn’t want to think about it, but I just couldn’t stop.”

– What was the biggest challenge of making the film?

“The biggest challenge. I think every film is exporting that feeling. You know that feeling when you’re trying to explain the smell of a perfume, or the memory of how you felt 20 years ago when you heard that song. I’m being vague, I know, but there is something to what I’m saying. The more concrete answer pertaining something that’s tightly linked to production would be not being able to make all the details stick to the screen. There are some things that I just know would have spiced things up so much more had they been in the film. I guess I regret some of the choices that came from time constraint. But really the biggest challenge was the weather. Some days we could experience four seasons at once. We lost a lot of time pushing jeeps up a snowy mountain.”

Gullstolen for beste kortfilm 2013 gikk til Izer Aliu for «Å vokte fjellet».
Izer Aliu

– Which feelings do you hope the audience is left with after watching the film?

“Since I lie to tell the truth, I hope I could remind them about something they have forgotten. Something that has always been there. And if I did what I set out to do, it won’t be valid only for this generation, but any. I feel that I’m far away from that on this film though, just to have that said. But I will soon.  I hope. Damn it, when I read this thing back to myself I see that I keep missing the graspable explanation. I guess that’s what film is as well, no? Something abstract to say something concrete? Maybe.”

“Anyways to answer the question more specific I would say that the feeling of love and guilt I guess. Bah, I hate saying this stuff. It’s so much more complex than what I feel.  Can you say that? Eastern philosophies are not so bound to one or the other. You don’t have to be either strong or soft you can be strong and soft at the same time. I like that thought. Film today is usually voyeuristic or pure storytelling. I think there needs to be balance in these for the best effect. But to cut through my own bullshit, I really can’t say what I wanted them to feel. I kind of just know. It feels right. It may sound weird but it’s not. I am my own audience. If I am really true, then so are they. I don’t adapt to them and they don’t adapt to me, it’s just something that is.”

– What has this film meant for your career?

“The film has been generous to my career. A lot of people have shown interest in my continued work which I’m really flattered about. I have a hard time accepting compliments. I’ve feel more comfortable in critique than in praise. Don’t get me wrong, I still like compliments. I guess that’s what school can do with you. But yeah, I have gotten the possibility to get to know and discuss film with people I really look up to and have deep respect for. It’s been really positive since that’s what I guess success in anything is good for anyway; the possibility to keep doing what I love. I would love to throw a light on the rest of the team who worked on the film. I feel that I’ve gotten a lot of attention but this was definitely a venture made by a dedicated few who stood by my side with a fierce will to tell this story.

– Why does the film look the way it does – aesthetically and stylistically?

“I believe a film should say more than we see. It should speak not only to the eyes. Still this is the area in which we can play the most. Nothing is new, only the way we use the different things. When it comes down to it, I guess I love the thought of manipulating free choice. I hope to one day reach a level of understanding of humans and cinema which allow me to do this in a way I know it can. You see nothing is real on the screen. It’s just a picture, or many pictures in a row. If we cut these pictures, as we have been taught by various entry level editing courses, we get context. We get meaning. Or rather, we create meaning, and then force it upon an audience.”

“But in the end it’s never the film that is packed with feelings, it’s us. I’m not underestimating anyone’s knowledge of editing, I’m just trying to get to a point and that is; we are able to use cuts without ever cutting. A cut forces someone to look at something, not cut does the opposite. It gives people freedom to place their eyes wherever they want, unknowing even that their eyes were directed there. I think this is really awesome. I know that this might be obvious to some, but to me this is the whole reason of film. To let you own truth. Truth acquired by choice.”

“The style and aesthetics of To Guard a Mountain was driven by the need to tell between the lines while never being imposing. When you are headed for someone’s feelings, you better tread lightly. We talked a lot about how the need to connect through fragmented view is deeply rooted in people. How, as I briefly mentioned, both voyeurism and story is linked. To head for uncertainty, as we always do, but to still reflect the inner lives of the people living in this universe.”

– How do you feel about the result today? – What is good and what is bad?

“In retrospect, I’m more happy with the result now than I was just until a while ago. I know there’s a lot of things I need to improve on. Not for anyone else’s sake, but for mine. I know I’ve made mistakes and sometimes I think that if I just had done this and that, the film would have been perfect. Now perfect is a strong word, but I mean of course according to my own scale. Others might have a much finer tuned definition of the word.”

“What has helped me get passed the mistakes is how the film has been received. It’s soothing that people like it, but there is this feeling in me that not everything was said. Not everything has really been said, you know? When we first finished the film and were going to be judged on it, it scared the shit out of me. The film is an exam film we made at the Norwegian Film School, so of course examination day I was feeling uneasy. We sat there, me and the rest of the crew, getting judged while the film is being dissected piece by piece. Every teacher and guests in their respective fields were breaking the film apart and criticizing the hell out of it. I was ready to throw up.”

“I know I earlier said I can take critique but this was a slaughter. I think I secretly agreed to a little less than half of what was said, and was surprised they didn’t bring up the stuff that I felt was crap. To sum it up I feel good about the film today, but I didn’t in the beginning. Something still jumps inside of me when I get to the parts I’m not happy with. But I’m kind of passed it in a way. I have to keep reminding myself that this is the first time people are seeing this, when they want to talk about the film, while I keep wanting to tell them about what I’m doing now and what I am going to do later.”

– What was the most important thing you learned during the making of your film?

“I would say that film school has almost taught me more about myself than about filmmaking. This is the most valuable thing I feel I have gotten out of the film. I had to dive into areas of myself that I’ve forgotten, and can’t help but think that others have done as well. This helps me a lot. You know when you suddenly realize something? Like something just drops and you go: Aha!”

“This is what happened to me. After that moment I feel film to be the easiest thing and the hardest thing to do. In a way learning that when I learn about myself, I also learn more about you. That’s why I simply love making films. You see, you kind of learn through doing and before doing you have to think and before that you have to feel. So it’s a progression that I can’t really explain. It’s if a person read a book and it changed his life, and suddenly understood how many books there are out there. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to change so many times. To pose myself the question, I guess I am.”

– Which Nordic directors inspire you?

“Whether they like it or not, I’ve come to see Ruben Östlund and Hisham Zaman somewhat of mentors. They have with both their work and philosophy on film made me reflect on my own work and cinema in general. They are both from the opposite side of a spectra but at the same side of another. I’ve learned a lot from simple discussions with them and value their cinematic friendship.”

“Other Scandinavian directors I have a big appreciation for, but they have for me always fallen in an international category. Scandinavian or not, the directors that are inspirational have qualities that transcend borders. There are of course Danish directors as well as Finnish that I have deep respect for and learn indirectly from even though they are not mentioned. I know I would just love to talk about cinema with a lot of them, but haven’t had the chance yet. I have this romanticized idea that directors can sit and philosophize about film. Luckily only recently I’ve had the opportunity to hook up with young directors from Scandinavia, but there is still a part of me that would like to pierce through the mind of someone who’s films I’ve loved growing up.”

– How would you describe the conditions for making feature films in Nordic countries?

“Good and shit. We invest more in films than many other parts of Europe, but at the same time the competition about the funds are high and the budgets are relatively low. Films being made with a low budget don’t bother me as much as why it is like that. It seems that this system is overcrowded also mostly because people are so damn dependant on getting funding that they don’t care about what they’re applying for. It’s a numbers game for many. I get disgusted by that. I know I might offend many by saying this but jumping from one film to another doesn’t make the whole situation better.”

“I recently shot a short film which is in editing and which was funded by the Norwegian Film Institute. My first application got rejected. I don’t take rejection well I’ve learned, but I said ‘fuck it’ and decided to make a feature film. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a while and finally I stopped whining and decided I would shoot it this summer and I did. It’s also in editing and I like to call it a result of restlessness. In the end I don’t feel like anyone can tell me whether I can make a film or not. It’s not about that, it’s about the funding. Fuck funding. Not the people behind the funds, just the reason to why you’re not making a film. If you really want to, you can. And that’s what I really feel about the conditions for making features.”

“There are some really good programmes for first time feature directors, at least in Norway, but with the new government’s budget cuts in film it’s going to be even harder. In the Nordic countries people have this love for film and could still make films, but it sucks in the long run because you don’t want people exploited. Better to be up front and say: ‘We have no money, we want to make a film’. I guess this works once. After doing that this summer, I don’t want to do it again. I just wanted to prove that I don’t need anyone’s permission to do what I love. I’ve shown the result and have gotten a surprised positive feedback. But why surprised? Because we think it’s impossible to make something without funds. That’s wrong. We might not be able to make anything we want without funds, but we certainly are able to make something. Something is good.”

– If you could change one thing about Nordic films, what would it be?

“Excuses and close-ups. That’s my answer. Maybe I’m still hot from the last question but really in the Nordic countries sometimes the thought is more important than the work. And it’s not. When something doesn’t fit us, we rather blame circumstances than just say ‘I fucked up’, learn, and move on. We try to rationalize what should be there when it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that in the small circle of filmmaking that we can’t discuss these things, I’m just saying the broader scale it feels like very few working in film in the Nordic countries don’t accept responsibility for what they do.”

“If you don’t want to do something, do something else, but take responsibility for it. We are too afraid. That’s what the problem is, I think. After film school and with the success of my exam film I was struck by fear. Fear that the next thing I do has to be genius. So I started filtrating all the things I really wanted to do until the point where I said ‘to hell with this. I’m just going to keep on making’. I had to, because I was getting paralyzed. And I see too many good directors falling into the trap that if they don’t do something that blows off the roof they might not get to make films again. I refer you to the previous question where I don’t think this should stop you from making films. In the end what I mean by excuses is that I’ve met too few people willing to take a risk. Too few that dare to believe in something and go after it. I think I’m calling out for a naivety of the filmmakers. To dare to be crap.”

“Second are close-ups and it is linked to the first in the way that many think they know what people want and try to give it to them. It’s kind of a hipster mentality out there of people who think they are capturing emotions because they think they know what art is and actively try to make art. Fuck art. If it is, it is. Art should be created not made. I mean this in the sense that you can’t force something to be considered as art. That should be more of an achievement, a consequence of emotional communication or understanding. I feel that I see way too many close-ups because people try to push onto us something that isn’t there. I have great respect for actors I work with, but why would I care that you really felt it if I can’t make the world feel it too? This is not the actors fault. It’s the directors. They choose to position themselves in a way that is empty. Because it’s really easy to get seduced by a close-up. Who wouldn’t?”

“If an actor/actress has enchanted us of course we would like to be close. But we as directors have to take responsibility of what we are making and not forget it. My apologies if I am coming out strong on this, but it’s really something that annoys me. Then we have long discussion and ask what is the problem with Nordic films. This is it. We make emptiness. Not even conscious emptiness. I’ve seen so many films that don’t have a soul. Have you seen these movies? They are beautifully shot. They could be beautiful acting. Beautiful sound work, set design, you name it. Still, it feels empty. Why? Why don’t we feel anything? Why don’t we remember these films? These are the questions we should be discussing I think.”

“Being a director in the Nordic countries is very exciting.. I’m very happy living in this day and age where these problems actually exist and we get to be a part of changing them. There are some directors working and have been working in the Nordic countries that I believe will set their stamp on cinema history.”

I’m kind of cooling off now and want to reassure you that in spite of the temper in these answers, I’m actually a pretty shy and down to earth otherwise. Maybe I’m trying to compensate for not being as hardcore as I’m sounding out to be here. But really I just appreciate the opportunity to make some issues known to people in the industry that have lost something in the garden but looking for it in the house.”

– What is your next film going to be about?

“8-9 months after film school I was paralyzed. I wrote a bit, but hadn’t really gone after what I wanted. In the next 7 months I’ve made a short film and made my debut feature. It’s called Hunting Flies and is a political drama semi-chamber play set to a school where a teacher locks up the boys in the class. The classroom is a reflection of society and I’ve used 18th century political philosophy as basis. It was also shot working off a 12-page synopsis. No budget. My next film will be either a heist-film or a sci-fi, but no kids. And if I know myself well enough, there will be kids.”

av Jeppe Mørch & Marie Andersen 

1 kommentar til Directors to Watch: Izer Aliu on «To Guard a Mountain»

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Directors to Watch: Izer Aliu on «To Guard a Mountain»

Directors to Watch: Izer Aliu on «To Guard a Mountain»

– Since I have a younger brother myself, I always kept thinking how it would be to carry your dead brother home. I didn’t want to think about it, but I just couldn’t stop.

Ten short films from Nordic “Directors to watch” follows the December issues of the Nordic film magazines RUSHPRINT in Norway, EKKO in Denmark, Episodi in Finland and FLM in Sweden. One of the directors is Izer Aliu with «To Guard a Mountain».

– How did you get the idea for the film?

“When I was a kid I wanted to know more about my grandfather who died at an early age and I never really got to know him. To remedy this, my grandmother used to tell me stories about him. One of these stories was about my grandfather and his two brothers when he was around ten years old. The story goes that my grandfather and his younger brothers were out herding cows when a lightning struck the youngest of the brothers, who was around six years old. The remaining two brothers then had to carry the dead body of their sibling home. Of all the stories about my grandfather, this is the one that I’ve kind of meditated on for a long time. Since I have a younger brother myself, I always kept thinking how it would be to carry your dead brother home. I didn’t want to think about it, but I just couldn’t stop.”

– What was the biggest challenge of making the film?

“The biggest challenge. I think every film is exporting that feeling. You know that feeling when you’re trying to explain the smell of a perfume, or the memory of how you felt 20 years ago when you heard that song. I’m being vague, I know, but there is something to what I’m saying. The more concrete answer pertaining something that’s tightly linked to production would be not being able to make all the details stick to the screen. There are some things that I just know would have spiced things up so much more had they been in the film. I guess I regret some of the choices that came from time constraint. But really the biggest challenge was the weather. Some days we could experience four seasons at once. We lost a lot of time pushing jeeps up a snowy mountain.”

Gullstolen for beste kortfilm 2013 gikk til Izer Aliu for «Å vokte fjellet».
Izer Aliu

– Which feelings do you hope the audience is left with after watching the film?

“Since I lie to tell the truth, I hope I could remind them about something they have forgotten. Something that has always been there. And if I did what I set out to do, it won’t be valid only for this generation, but any. I feel that I’m far away from that on this film though, just to have that said. But I will soon.  I hope. Damn it, when I read this thing back to myself I see that I keep missing the graspable explanation. I guess that’s what film is as well, no? Something abstract to say something concrete? Maybe.”

“Anyways to answer the question more specific I would say that the feeling of love and guilt I guess. Bah, I hate saying this stuff. It’s so much more complex than what I feel.  Can you say that? Eastern philosophies are not so bound to one or the other. You don’t have to be either strong or soft you can be strong and soft at the same time. I like that thought. Film today is usually voyeuristic or pure storytelling. I think there needs to be balance in these for the best effect. But to cut through my own bullshit, I really can’t say what I wanted them to feel. I kind of just know. It feels right. It may sound weird but it’s not. I am my own audience. If I am really true, then so are they. I don’t adapt to them and they don’t adapt to me, it’s just something that is.”

– What has this film meant for your career?

“The film has been generous to my career. A lot of people have shown interest in my continued work which I’m really flattered about. I have a hard time accepting compliments. I’ve feel more comfortable in critique than in praise. Don’t get me wrong, I still like compliments. I guess that’s what school can do with you. But yeah, I have gotten the possibility to get to know and discuss film with people I really look up to and have deep respect for. It’s been really positive since that’s what I guess success in anything is good for anyway; the possibility to keep doing what I love. I would love to throw a light on the rest of the team who worked on the film. I feel that I’ve gotten a lot of attention but this was definitely a venture made by a dedicated few who stood by my side with a fierce will to tell this story.

– Why does the film look the way it does – aesthetically and stylistically?

“I believe a film should say more than we see. It should speak not only to the eyes. Still this is the area in which we can play the most. Nothing is new, only the way we use the different things. When it comes down to it, I guess I love the thought of manipulating free choice. I hope to one day reach a level of understanding of humans and cinema which allow me to do this in a way I know it can. You see nothing is real on the screen. It’s just a picture, or many pictures in a row. If we cut these pictures, as we have been taught by various entry level editing courses, we get context. We get meaning. Or rather, we create meaning, and then force it upon an audience.”

“But in the end it’s never the film that is packed with feelings, it’s us. I’m not underestimating anyone’s knowledge of editing, I’m just trying to get to a point and that is; we are able to use cuts without ever cutting. A cut forces someone to look at something, not cut does the opposite. It gives people freedom to place their eyes wherever they want, unknowing even that their eyes were directed there. I think this is really awesome. I know that this might be obvious to some, but to me this is the whole reason of film. To let you own truth. Truth acquired by choice.”

“The style and aesthetics of To Guard a Mountain was driven by the need to tell between the lines while never being imposing. When you are headed for someone’s feelings, you better tread lightly. We talked a lot about how the need to connect through fragmented view is deeply rooted in people. How, as I briefly mentioned, both voyeurism and story is linked. To head for uncertainty, as we always do, but to still reflect the inner lives of the people living in this universe.”

– How do you feel about the result today? – What is good and what is bad?

“In retrospect, I’m more happy with the result now than I was just until a while ago. I know there’s a lot of things I need to improve on. Not for anyone else’s sake, but for mine. I know I’ve made mistakes and sometimes I think that if I just had done this and that, the film would have been perfect. Now perfect is a strong word, but I mean of course according to my own scale. Others might have a much finer tuned definition of the word.”

“What has helped me get passed the mistakes is how the film has been received. It’s soothing that people like it, but there is this feeling in me that not everything was said. Not everything has really been said, you know? When we first finished the film and were going to be judged on it, it scared the shit out of me. The film is an exam film we made at the Norwegian Film School, so of course examination day I was feeling uneasy. We sat there, me and the rest of the crew, getting judged while the film is being dissected piece by piece. Every teacher and guests in their respective fields were breaking the film apart and criticizing the hell out of it. I was ready to throw up.”

“I know I earlier said I can take critique but this was a slaughter. I think I secretly agreed to a little less than half of what was said, and was surprised they didn’t bring up the stuff that I felt was crap. To sum it up I feel good about the film today, but I didn’t in the beginning. Something still jumps inside of me when I get to the parts I’m not happy with. But I’m kind of passed it in a way. I have to keep reminding myself that this is the first time people are seeing this, when they want to talk about the film, while I keep wanting to tell them about what I’m doing now and what I am going to do later.”

– What was the most important thing you learned during the making of your film?

“I would say that film school has almost taught me more about myself than about filmmaking. This is the most valuable thing I feel I have gotten out of the film. I had to dive into areas of myself that I’ve forgotten, and can’t help but think that others have done as well. This helps me a lot. You know when you suddenly realize something? Like something just drops and you go: Aha!”

“This is what happened to me. After that moment I feel film to be the easiest thing and the hardest thing to do. In a way learning that when I learn about myself, I also learn more about you. That’s why I simply love making films. You see, you kind of learn through doing and before doing you have to think and before that you have to feel. So it’s a progression that I can’t really explain. It’s if a person read a book and it changed his life, and suddenly understood how many books there are out there. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to change so many times. To pose myself the question, I guess I am.”

– Which Nordic directors inspire you?

“Whether they like it or not, I’ve come to see Ruben Östlund and Hisham Zaman somewhat of mentors. They have with both their work and philosophy on film made me reflect on my own work and cinema in general. They are both from the opposite side of a spectra but at the same side of another. I’ve learned a lot from simple discussions with them and value their cinematic friendship.”

“Other Scandinavian directors I have a big appreciation for, but they have for me always fallen in an international category. Scandinavian or not, the directors that are inspirational have qualities that transcend borders. There are of course Danish directors as well as Finnish that I have deep respect for and learn indirectly from even though they are not mentioned. I know I would just love to talk about cinema with a lot of them, but haven’t had the chance yet. I have this romanticized idea that directors can sit and philosophize about film. Luckily only recently I’ve had the opportunity to hook up with young directors from Scandinavia, but there is still a part of me that would like to pierce through the mind of someone who’s films I’ve loved growing up.”

– How would you describe the conditions for making feature films in Nordic countries?

“Good and shit. We invest more in films than many other parts of Europe, but at the same time the competition about the funds are high and the budgets are relatively low. Films being made with a low budget don’t bother me as much as why it is like that. It seems that this system is overcrowded also mostly because people are so damn dependant on getting funding that they don’t care about what they’re applying for. It’s a numbers game for many. I get disgusted by that. I know I might offend many by saying this but jumping from one film to another doesn’t make the whole situation better.”

“I recently shot a short film which is in editing and which was funded by the Norwegian Film Institute. My first application got rejected. I don’t take rejection well I’ve learned, but I said ‘fuck it’ and decided to make a feature film. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a while and finally I stopped whining and decided I would shoot it this summer and I did. It’s also in editing and I like to call it a result of restlessness. In the end I don’t feel like anyone can tell me whether I can make a film or not. It’s not about that, it’s about the funding. Fuck funding. Not the people behind the funds, just the reason to why you’re not making a film. If you really want to, you can. And that’s what I really feel about the conditions for making features.”

“There are some really good programmes for first time feature directors, at least in Norway, but with the new government’s budget cuts in film it’s going to be even harder. In the Nordic countries people have this love for film and could still make films, but it sucks in the long run because you don’t want people exploited. Better to be up front and say: ‘We have no money, we want to make a film’. I guess this works once. After doing that this summer, I don’t want to do it again. I just wanted to prove that I don’t need anyone’s permission to do what I love. I’ve shown the result and have gotten a surprised positive feedback. But why surprised? Because we think it’s impossible to make something without funds. That’s wrong. We might not be able to make anything we want without funds, but we certainly are able to make something. Something is good.”

– If you could change one thing about Nordic films, what would it be?

“Excuses and close-ups. That’s my answer. Maybe I’m still hot from the last question but really in the Nordic countries sometimes the thought is more important than the work. And it’s not. When something doesn’t fit us, we rather blame circumstances than just say ‘I fucked up’, learn, and move on. We try to rationalize what should be there when it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that in the small circle of filmmaking that we can’t discuss these things, I’m just saying the broader scale it feels like very few working in film in the Nordic countries don’t accept responsibility for what they do.”

“If you don’t want to do something, do something else, but take responsibility for it. We are too afraid. That’s what the problem is, I think. After film school and with the success of my exam film I was struck by fear. Fear that the next thing I do has to be genius. So I started filtrating all the things I really wanted to do until the point where I said ‘to hell with this. I’m just going to keep on making’. I had to, because I was getting paralyzed. And I see too many good directors falling into the trap that if they don’t do something that blows off the roof they might not get to make films again. I refer you to the previous question where I don’t think this should stop you from making films. In the end what I mean by excuses is that I’ve met too few people willing to take a risk. Too few that dare to believe in something and go after it. I think I’m calling out for a naivety of the filmmakers. To dare to be crap.”

“Second are close-ups and it is linked to the first in the way that many think they know what people want and try to give it to them. It’s kind of a hipster mentality out there of people who think they are capturing emotions because they think they know what art is and actively try to make art. Fuck art. If it is, it is. Art should be created not made. I mean this in the sense that you can’t force something to be considered as art. That should be more of an achievement, a consequence of emotional communication or understanding. I feel that I see way too many close-ups because people try to push onto us something that isn’t there. I have great respect for actors I work with, but why would I care that you really felt it if I can’t make the world feel it too? This is not the actors fault. It’s the directors. They choose to position themselves in a way that is empty. Because it’s really easy to get seduced by a close-up. Who wouldn’t?”

“If an actor/actress has enchanted us of course we would like to be close. But we as directors have to take responsibility of what we are making and not forget it. My apologies if I am coming out strong on this, but it’s really something that annoys me. Then we have long discussion and ask what is the problem with Nordic films. This is it. We make emptiness. Not even conscious emptiness. I’ve seen so many films that don’t have a soul. Have you seen these movies? They are beautifully shot. They could be beautiful acting. Beautiful sound work, set design, you name it. Still, it feels empty. Why? Why don’t we feel anything? Why don’t we remember these films? These are the questions we should be discussing I think.”

“Being a director in the Nordic countries is very exciting.. I’m very happy living in this day and age where these problems actually exist and we get to be a part of changing them. There are some directors working and have been working in the Nordic countries that I believe will set their stamp on cinema history.”

I’m kind of cooling off now and want to reassure you that in spite of the temper in these answers, I’m actually a pretty shy and down to earth otherwise. Maybe I’m trying to compensate for not being as hardcore as I’m sounding out to be here. But really I just appreciate the opportunity to make some issues known to people in the industry that have lost something in the garden but looking for it in the house.”

– What is your next film going to be about?

“8-9 months after film school I was paralyzed. I wrote a bit, but hadn’t really gone after what I wanted. In the next 7 months I’ve made a short film and made my debut feature. It’s called Hunting Flies and is a political drama semi-chamber play set to a school where a teacher locks up the boys in the class. The classroom is a reflection of society and I’ve used 18th century political philosophy as basis. It was also shot working off a 12-page synopsis. No budget. My next film will be either a heist-film or a sci-fi, but no kids. And if I know myself well enough, there will be kids.”

av Jeppe Mørch & Marie Andersen 

One Response to Directors to Watch: Izer Aliu on «To Guard a Mountain»

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