Q&A with Lars Vega, co-dir. Väntan På Döden / Awaiting Death - Canal+ AwardClermont 2020
Friday 7 February 2020, by
A son arrives at the hospital to watch over his father’s death bed. When the son wants one last nice moment, his father would rather find out what to do with the two opened cans of mustard.
Awaiting Death is a deceptively simple and sombre short. Through minor exchanges and limited dialogue, the directors manage to convey a nuanced and very human relationship with characteristic deadpan humour, getting a delicate balance in tone just right.
More on the film...
How did you come up with the story of this relationship?
I was told a story from my friend Annica Zion that her grandparents were talking about Swedish meatballs when the grandmother was in hospital. I thought there was something funny about talking about something so unimportant in a place which is associated with so much drama in films.
Is any part of it biographical or autobiographical? Are the characters based on people you know?
No, but maybe it will happen when Isabelle’s (co- director Isabelle Björklund) father is waiting to die.
How was it working together on the film?
It’s complicated. It went well. It’s good when there’s two of you, because one can pick “kaffe och kakor” (coffee and biscuits) while the other talks nonsense with the actors.
A number of Swedish films display that same deadpan, dark humour. Would you say it’s a national comedic trait?
Not really. I wish it were, more like Roy Andersson. But right now there are very stupid comedies in Swedish cinema. But our way, being Swedish, especially in Northern Sweden, is very much deadpan. Fear of conflict is common in us Swedes.
What are your projects for the near future?
Going the Danish National Film School and working on a new film, Mattanter. Isabelle Björklund is unemployed.
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
The best thing with short film is that you do not have to go to the toilet during the screening. And that you can tell stories about everyday things without putting in a big drama act.