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Ahead of our first film festival in Prague, we talk to one of directors Gabriela Pichler about her social satire of small town in Sweden

Girls in Film Prague is proud to announce its first mini-film festival in cooperation with Film Europe. Featuring 5 first and second films of promising European female directors, the event takes place from 14th to 16th June at a beautiful Art Nouveau cinema Kino Lucerna and apart from screenings, it will also present a debate focusing on the current situation of female filmmakers in European film industry.

We have curated the programming from some of the most striking films that have enjoyed accolades at Europe's big international film festivals, featuring work by promising female directors across various genres. More info here.

One of the selected directors is Gabriela Pichler, a Swedish helmer who's second feature Amateurs portrays small town in modern multicultural Sweden, trying to keep up with its evolving ethnical make up. Using non-performers and mixed media formats ranging from selfie sticks and iPhones to broadcast cameras, the film pokes fun at generational, racial and societal divide. GiF talked to Pichler about Amateurs and the perils of getting that second feature off the ground.

What was your inspiration for writing “Amateurs”?

I am much inspired by Milos Forman’s early films and Věra Chytilová’s ”Sedmikrásky”. I really love the way Forman mixes comedy with social criticism and at the same time never gives up his compassion for his characters. Films like “Hoří, má panenko”,  ”Lásky jedné plavovlásky”, and ”Cerný Petr” really affected me as a filmmaker and the documentaristic style I like to work in. Also my Director of Cinematography Johan Lundborg studied at FAMU for one year, which influenced him a lot. He for instance got the chance to have Věra Chytilová as a guest teacher!

My main inspiration was Swedish society right now, and the contradictions that lie with-in Sweden’s image of itself.  

Would you say that the international success of your first film 'Eat Sleep Die' was an important factor in financing your second feature?

Of course it helped to have a track record to present to certain financiers, but that alone wasn't a guarantee for funding. Especially when it came to present a film with 95% amateurs it was crucial to have audio-visual material to present to make the financiers relax about this…

Another thing worth mentioning is that my career as a filmmaker in Sweden really took off when I won the award for best short film at Karlovy Vary Fresh Film Fest 2009, for my graduation film at Film school. That really had an effect on the Swedish film industry and that really caught their eye.

How is the genre of comedy regarded in Sweden? Would you say that it is popular?

Yes, but this kind of more satirical style with social criticism mixed with comedy is quite rare in Swedish feature films. I guess it is because these films are harder to accomplish, haha… 

What was your approach to casting for Amateurs? How did you find your main cast?

It took a lot of fantastic casting workers, much time spent to find the right persons (10months up to 1 year) and a lot of time to get my first-time-actors confident and prepared for the film shooting. They are really wonderful and I think they did an extraordinary job! But it is also important to have a film team and a way of shooting and editing that brings out the best of the people you choose in front of your camera.


Swedish film institute introduced 50/50 quota for funding female-directed films, has that changed situation for female filmmakers?

Of course every conscious political change in the film industry has a good effect to make it easier for female filmmakers. Sweden has come a long way compared to many other film industries around the world. But there is still a lot of work to be done, and for the rest of Swedish society to follow.


What are your next projects?

Writing on new scripts. And right now celebrating the 20th Seoul International Women’s Film Festival in South Korea where I am right now with my film.