What Story Are You In?

"Everything Will Be Fine" is the fourth feature by Christoffer Boe, whose "Reconstruction" won the Camera d'or at Cannes 2003. Now the genre-savvy Danish director, 35, is taking political thrillers and all their paranoid trappings for a spin.

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Frame from "Everything Will Be Fine"

"Everything Will Be Fine" is about a down-on-his­luck director-slash-screenwriter who is whirled into a crisis of a different magnitude, involving Denmark's ongoing participation in foreign wars. The film marks a new phase in Christoffer Boe's continuing investigation of the creative process and the importance of narratives in giving us a sense of control over life.

How did you get the idea for Everything Will Be Fine?
"My friend, the documentary filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen, was involved in a film about the war in Afghanistan and he told me some amazing stories that almost seemed too good to be true. They could not be used in a documentary or a journalistic piece because they were hard to verify – but luckily I don't have that problem. So I used some of these – unverified facts – to make a story that deals with idealism and the system's corruption."

Your films tend to be about the creative process and storytelling themselves. Did you have any misgivings about marrying that theme to the real armed conflicts Denmark is participating in?
"Huge misgivings. But I was having trouble getting under the skin of the war, because I don't know anything about it. I'm not indignant on behalf of anyone, but I get the impression that the war doesn't really interest us Danes. It has never really played any significant political role in the public debate. At some basic level we just don't really care that much about the war. And that became part of the story. How one man becomes involved in the war – because it becomes part of his own story."
"Essentially, all my films are about how we try to navigate an existence that is supposed to be so great and wonderful but presents so many challenges. As I see it, the creative process mirrors the basic things: Who are you? What do you believe in? Where are you going? What story are you in? We all write our own story in our heads, and we all need a story we can understand ourselves in. Existential questions can be hard to talk about, but they become pretty concrete when you make films about the creative process itself."

Has making films made you a happier person?
"Yes. And that's my biggest artistic problem, because happiness makes for poor drama. Misfortune is no doubt a better starting point for art. But 'sadly' I'm in a place where I'm happy both privately and professionally. I have my own company and I get to do the films I want to do. So, in a sense, I try to construct misfortune."
Did that make it hard for you to direct Jens Albinus in the lead as a man who is cracking up mentally? "Well, I have had my problems, fortunately, so I have those memories to draw on. Moreover, I'm good at putting myself in other people's shoes. Empathy I guess you'd call it. But ultimately Jens would have to answer that question, whether I was so happy it was hard for him to take me seriously!"


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"Everything Will be Fine" Photo: Max Stirner

"Everything Will Be Fine" features some spectacular visual effects – in one case you make certain familiar, quite monumental structures look like miniatures. How did you do that?
"I won't say how we pulled it off technically – that's our secret! Like a magician, I don't give away my tricks. But I can reveal why we did it. It was to clarify the idea that we play leading roles in our own lives but supporting roles in other people's lives. Plus, we're often controlled by other people's intentions and desires. I'm obsessed with the idea of people as game pieces. The last great taboo in our highly individualistic lives is that we don't have absolute control of our own lives. What happens to us, then, when we're confronted with the thing we have no control over?"
Do you see yourself as a lone wolf in Danish film?
"I am less resistant to Danish film now than when I first started out almost 10 years ago, but of course I'm part of it now. Basically, I don't think I have that much in common with other Danish filmmakers and I always try to dribble around the usual methods, cinematic styles and themes. I'm probably a lone wolf who's been hit by the Stockholm syndrome. I've begun to sympathise with my hostage-takers."

"Everything Will Be Fine" has a strong hint of political thriller. How do you feel about that genre?
 "Generally speaking, genres are the vital nerve of film, the primordial ooze from which we create. They can capture life in different ways. Though cinema is entertainment at heart, it is also able to give us insight into the kind of life we are not otherwise privy to. It offers a kind of VIP seat to the backstage of life. It's where you experience your first love, sorrow and death, maybe even before you encounter them in real life, without risking anything but the price of admission."

"I've previously taken off from the romance and science fiction genres. What the political thriller can do is create paranoia, the feeling that we can't trust our surroundings. The archetypical thriller form is that something has shifted and someone's to blame. Who's to blame and why did they do what they did? Are some of the people closest to me in cahoots with them? While you're talking with your loved one, you suddenly get the sense that she has a secret agenda. Thrillers have this wonderful elemental power of suspicion, like I said before, where it's seriously difficult to discern what kind of story you are in."

Which genres have given you the greatest experiences?
 "Comedies and thrillers. There have been many truly masterful comedies but very few sublime thrillers. Films like David Fincher's The Game and Alan J. Pakula's The Parallax View. And of course the films of Alfred Hitchcock, notably Vertigo, which is all about reconstructing your own story."

Can you lift the veil on your future projects?
 "I'm doing a project titled Beast, an intense psychodrama that's my attempt to marry "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and "Alien"."

For further information on "Everything Will Be Fine", see catalogue in reverse section.

Facts

Christoffer Boe

Born 1974, Denmark. Graduated in film and media at the University of Copenhagen, 1996, and in direction at the national Film school of Denmark, 2001. His feature film debut "Reconstruction" (2003) received the prestigious Camera d'or and the Critics' Week Youth Jury Award at Cannes in 2003.The same year he was recipient of FIPRESCI's Director of the Year. His second feature "Allegro", chosen for Venice Days and Toronto, and won the Prix du Jury Jeunes. His third feature "Offscreen" followed in 2006, winning the Fantastic Jury Award in Austin and the Altre Visioni Award in Venice.

Alphaville Pictures Copenhagen


Founded 2003 by director Christoffer Boe and producer Tine Grew Pfeiffer. Prior to this they produced their first feature "Reconstruction" (2003, produced by nordisk Film), winner of Cannes Camera d'or. Company's first film: "Allegro" (Christoffer Boe, 2005), and the experimental, low-budget film project entitled "OffScreen" (2006), an odd marriage of fiction and reality about a man filming himself for a whole year in a quest for invisibility. The film won the Altre Visioni Award in Venice. Titles 2009/2010: the documentary "Out of Love" by Birgitte stærmose, chosen for Berlinale's Generation, the feature films "Everything Will be Fine" and "Beast" directed by Christoffer Boe.

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