No Fun Being Lonely

Mads Matthiesen’s short fiction "Cathrine" carries the directors distinctive style: a strong social involvement and a desire for realism. Although a recent film school graduate, Matthiesen is not without festival experience. "Mum" (2006) competed at the Venice Film Festival, and "Dennis" (2007) was selected for Sundance.

Cathrine

Fragile, insecure characters populate Mads Matthiesen's film - like Cathrine, who is kicked around by life (photo: Linn Sandholm)

"Cathrine" is about an overweight teenage girl’s struggle to break free of her domineering and noncomprehending parents. She is in a relationship with a man in his thirties, but when her parents find out, they forbid her to see him.

Matthiesen made his three recent films "Mum", "Dennis" and "Cathrine" while at Copenhagen’s alternative Super16 film school. Super16 is an association of young filmmakers that is run by the filmmakers themselves. There is no president, no administration, and Super16 receives no regular government funding.

"Cathrine" is Matthiesen’s graduation film. Though he has had some success with his films before, he was still surprised to be selected for Berlin.

ORDINARY PEOPLE

“I’ve only made films that I really feel for. I prefer to focus on the story and the characters – letting technique be secondary. So, you never know what other people will get out of them, or whether they will like what they see,” Matthiesen says.

“Super16 has done a lot for me. It’s one thing that my films have done well. Another thing is that I have found a way to tell stories that works for me.” Matthiesen has been a filmmaker for more than ten years now, but he truly found his style at Super16. In his three recent films, you sense a strong social involvement and a desire for realism. The characters are fragile, and the action is set in common locations like suburbs and malls.

“Cathrine does not have an easy time socially. Although we never see her in school, we clearly sense that she has a hard time there. That makes it even harder for her to break with her parents. They are the only security she’s got.

“Why should we only see people who are on top of things? The film is an attempt to show a group of people who are often overlooked in our society – ordinary people who are not on top. I wanted to do a film about the kind of people you
meet in the everyday. People who aren’t well educated or well off, all those you don’t see on TV, the other half who sit there watching the game shows and talk shows. Our society is more than just a circle of artistic and creative young people,” Matthiesen says.”

FRAGILITY IS A CONDITION

“Life kicks you around, especially when you’re a teenager,” Matthiesen says. Cathrine has beenkicked around, which doesn’t make it any easier for her to take a chance on love. “Cathrine and her boyfriend are super fragile. They may not have found happiness together, but they have found each other. They do as well as they can, considering their background and the opportunities they have, but in fact they are very much alone with their problems.”

Although Cathrine’s mother is wholly incapable of raising her daughter, Matthiesen does not wish to be judgemental. Rather, he wants to show what the world can be like for people who aren’t resourceful. “Everyone in the film is trying to do the best they can. Only, the mother can’t see how her own low self-esteem is hurting her daughter.”

As Matthiesen sees it, we’re all fragile. “At least everyone I know. Especially when it comes to love. However, daring to be fragile around another person is also an expression of love. That’s what love is or ought to be – daring to stand by your own fragility.”

NEW FILM IN THAILAND

At the time of this writing, Matthiesen is in Bangkok researching his next film, his first feature film project. He is developing the screenplay with support from the Danish Film Institute. Once again, his film is about people who have a hard time getting by socially and meeting society’s expectations.

“I’m in Thailand to develop a film about the ‘sex trade’ and all the unpleasant things that go with it. But when you look around, you clearly see that they (the sex tourists, ed.) are people who don’t have it easy. They are nerds, overweight and lonely, who really have a hard time talking to other people back home where they come from,” Matthiesen says. “It’s no fun being lonely.

Director Mads Matthiesen (photo: Hanni Gohr Jørgensen)

Facts

MADS MATTHIESEN
Born 1976, Denmark. BA in Comparative Literature and Rhetoric from Copenhagen University, 2005. Graduated as director from the film talent program Super16, 2008. Master’s degree in Modern Cultural Studies from Copenhagen University, 2009. His short films include: "Mum" (2006), selected for the Venice Film Festival in the official competition programme Corto Cortissimo; "Dennis" (2007), an official selection at Sundance; and "Cathrine" (2008), selected for Generation 14plus in Berlin.


SUPER16 / NORDISK FILM
Founded 1999. Super16 has many aliases: the alternative film school, a talent program and a creative film community. Mads Matthiesen and his producer Jonas Bagger are Super16 graduates of 2008. Other graduates include directors Christina Rosendahl, Morten Hartz Kaplers, Martin Barnewitz and many more. Super16 is sponsored by Nordisk Film.

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