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GÖTEBORG 2017: Handle With Care Q&A Session

Where did this story begin?

Jorge Camacho (writer): This story is quite personal. I am originally from Colombia, but have been living in Norway for the past eleven years. I had always wanted to do a collaboration between the two countries; at a time where people are talking about building walls, I knew I wanted to build bridges. This idea was always at the back of my mind, and it wasn’t until my girlfriend and I had spoken about what we’d do if we couldn’t have kids that I started to develop the idea. I could never answer that question. I wanted to build on the story by having a tragedy play out where the man didn’t necessarily want to adopt. Once that concept was there, the story wrote itself.

Arild, when did you join the project?

Arild Andresen (director): I met the director when this was still just an idea in his mind. I was working on The Orheim Company, which is a complex family drama that takes place almost entirely inside a house, and shows a boy being awful to his father. Handle With Care is another family drama but was set in the world, and is a road movie of sorts. The concept of being a journey appealed to me, and we worked from that and spent two years developing the script.

Do you consider the ending to be a happy one?

Arild: It’s not really for me to answer, that’s for the audience. Once the film ends, the characters and the story belong to you. All I’ll say is that it’s supposed to be a nuanced ending and I never imagined a happy one.

How did you work with the child actor?

Arild: The actor, Kristoffer Bech, is only seven years old. When I met him, he told me his dream was to become an actor. He’s got a great imagination but we had to be really sure he could take on the role, considering he’s in much of the film, over half of which takes place in Colombia. We trained him thoroughly and built trust between him and us and him and Kristoffer Joner. I brought them together early and they spent a lot of time together. We had these games where he had to get to know himself as an actor; his despair and his anger. That was the biggest learning curve for him; not feeling stupid or being afraid of his emotions.

How was it to explore a heavy subject?

I’m a father myself and I know it can be hard sometimes. It’s difficult when you feel incompetent in a role that’s supposed to be quite simple; giving protection and taking care of a child. Even though Kjetil’s actions are highly debatable, there’s something in him I can relate to quite strongly. I think it is the shame you feel when you aren’t good enough.

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.