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Out of Nature: A Conversation with Ole Giaever

Ole Giæver’s latest film Out of Nature is everywhere lately. After its debut in September, the film has gone on to win in Trondheim and become a Scandinavian hit. Furthermore, at the most recent Berlin Film Festival in February, the film promoted itself by having people run around the streets of Berlin in an outfit much like the one above.

In all seriousness, the film sets out to use the environmental aspects of Norway in a raw, emotional way that forces the viewer to confront their relationship with the environment around them. We sat down with the films director, writer and star Ole Giæver to ask about the success of the film and the meaning behind it.

Emma: Can you explain the film Out of Nature to us? Give us a brief overview of the film in your own words!

Ole: The film is about Martin, a family father in his thirties, who feels detached in his everyday life. On a hiking trip over three days we get uncensored access to his mind. During these days we get to know Martin and his personal struggles and amusement through daydreams, fantasies and childhood memories.

Where did you shoot the film? What made you pick those locations?

We shot the film in Mosjøen and its surroundings in Northern-Norway. I wanted a small town where it’s difficult to hide, where you always have to perform socially because everybody knows you. And I wanted a variated, naked and rough landscape, where it’s possible to “get lost” in the forest, but also bare mountains with never-ending horizons.

Your films seem to use nature as a central role. In your opinion, what do you think makes shooting a film in nature so appealing?

There are several reasons that makes shooting in nature appealing. One aspect is the element of chaos, that you never know what kind of weather or conditions you have to solve your scenes according to. That makes you more focused, more impulsive and spontaneous, which brings energy and authenticity to your scenes. Another aspect is the ability to keep the energy up, because you don’t have to redress or move lamps between shots, you can immediate proceed to your shot reverse with out loosing your own or the actors attention and concentration.

Why is it that when one of your characters needs to deal with trauma, they head to the hills (both a figure of speech and literally!). What makes nature the place to find yourself?

We are more confronted with ourselves in nature, you can’t turn on the tv or distract yourself as easily. In nature you can escape everything but yourself, and then in the end it’s all you are left with, and you have to make that inner confrontation.

In Scandinavia, and in particular Norway, there seems to be a very close connection to the natural environment. Why and how is nature such an important element to the culture?

It’s a part of our legacy and identity, much because we have a lot of land/nature compared to how many inhabitants there are. Even in our small capitol Oslo, there are woods surrounding the city almost everywhere not farther away than a twenty minute drive from the city centre. Nature is hand has been important to us, because we’re surrounded by it, but more and more in a romantic way and not so natural as it used to be just a few generations ago. As in the rest of the world, people in Norway move towards the “big” cities, and hiking and other activities that you “naturally” do in nature becomes more of a interest or a hobby. Still we seek and long for nature within cultural structures and art forms, such as literature and film.

How important is nature in your everyday life?

It’s very important that I set off time every week to find room for contemplation, like deep contemplation, not only the 15 minute bus drive to kindergarten. Personally I go for long running sessions in the woods close to where I live, but I also like to bring my whole family to the woods or mountains for the weekend, either in a cabin or a big tent. Being with family or friends in nature also gives you that ease and natural rhythm.

In contemporary Scandinavia, the male role seems to be placed second place to the woman in a family setting. Much like Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure, your film critiques the contemporary family structure. How closely did you base the story of Scandinavian society?

It was not so much my intention to criticize the modern family structure, as to make a film about the solitude and detachment we all can fall into in our struggle to belong, to be seen and feel present in life. Women used to be the guardians of the home and the family while men did their self-realization through work, but my generation and partly the generation above me have been more equal. Still we have inherited and are challenged by the patterns of our parents, the patriarchy, commercials etc, that tells us that we have certain expectations to live up to, according to our gender. But nowadays, in Scandinavia and the western society I think men and women struggle equally to find the balance between taking care of and be a part of the family and having a career for oneself.

Do you think the film can relate to people from all corners of the world, or do you believe it to be a very Scandinavian film?

I think some themes of the film are universal, like that there are some thoughts you keep to yourself, and that, in the end, we are all alone. Then there are some themes that are more typical for Scandinavia. It’s probably a very Scandinavian film, but all films should be specific at some levels, otherwise all films will be generic. The beauty of cinema is that we can identify with people from all over the world.

What are the plans for the next upcoming film? Anything you can let us in on?    

It’s working title is From the Balcony. We started shooting in March in will shoot for exactly one year. It’s more like a film essay, than a conventional character drama.

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.