World premiering in competition at Tokyo Film Festival is Danish director Frelle Petersen's sophomore feature 'Uncle', which shines an authentic light on a remote part of Denmark and the people living there.
The film centres on 27-year-old Kris who is highly protective of her disabled uncle. They have a quirky, yet loving relationship built on daily routines at their farm in a rural part of Denmark. However, she develops a friendship with the chatty veterinarian Johannes, and she slowly beings to experience life outside the farm. As love crosses her path, a possible life-changing question emerges.
'Uncle' is an authentic depiction of rural life in a part of Denmark where Frelle Petersen grew up. Petersen wanted to portray the environment as he knew it, which is why he also decided to live on the farm, where the majority of the film was shot, during both his research and writing process as well as the shoot.
"My goal was to be as precise as possible in the depiction of the environment, the people and the specific dialect spoken in this part of the country. I cast only locals who lived within a 15 kilometer radius of the farm, while we also didn't make significant scenographic changes to the locations. I wanted to be as faithful to reality as possible, in order to create what will become an almost historic portrayal of a type of farm agriculture that will soon cease to exist," says Petersen.
The farmer who owned the place, Peter H. Tygesen, ended up being cast, in his first film role, as the titular uncle opposite his real life niece Jette Søndergaard who plays Kris – a role that was written specifically for her.
Søndergaard has her second role after starring in Petersen's debut feature, 'Where Have All the Good Men Gone', which was selected for Seattle Film Festival. Ole Caspersen who plays the role of Johannes, and is an actual veterinarian, makes his acting debut.
Meeting the audience in Japan
Frelle Petersen is looking forward to screening the film for a Japanese audience, which has more in common with a family from rural Denmark than one may think, according to the director.
"I think the Japanese audience will be interested in the film for several reasons: As I understand it, a lot of grown children in Japan take care of their parents as they grow older. 'Uncle' depicts a young woman taking care of her worn out uncle while trying to balance that with pursuing her own dreams and ambitions. At the same time, it is a film that portrays a human dilemma at its own pace.
Other than that, 'Uncle' is a very specific portrait of agriculture in Denmark which may never have been depicted on film before. And just as in Denmark, Japan has experienced agriculture going from being the country's primary trade to being just a small percentage of it," says Petersen and continues:
"I look very much forward to meeting the audience and hearing their responses to the film. For me, that is the best part of filmmaking."