|Erlend Hella Matre|
Director / Producer
Erlend Hella Matre has been studying and working with visual art since his early teens. In Norway he studied fine arts and theater science at the University of Oslo. Since 1998 he has been working with design in theater and film in the Czech Republic, starting off studying stage design under professor Lubos Hruza at the theater faculty of applied arts at the Charles University, Prague. He has written short scripts for films as well as co-written a full feature.
Erlend Hella Matre has also experience as an actor both on the stage and in films in Norway as well as in Czech Republic.
He has done stage and film design, including costume design, at several Czech theaters and Czech film productions, commercials and music videos.
In his youth he was also an active musician with percussion as main instrument and piano and guitar as side instruments.
Andrea Shaffer has been in the film industry for 20 years. During this time she has worked in both in the west and the eastern block. She is passionate about challenging international film makers with ambitions concepts.
At the beginning of her film career she directed and produced short films, worked for global companies such as Panalux & Vantage Film, joined Buzz Production as an International Producer, represented directors at Stink Production (Moscow) and later returned to her home town, Prague, and formed Nomad Films Prague. Mindset is her new mission.
Andrea is also Head of International Sales at MagicLab Prague, a VFX/ post-production company focused on feature films and co-productions. Magiclab is a co-producer of A Man of Integrity awarded Un Certain Regard in Cannes 2017, Bille a family drama co-producer with Latvia/Devini Studio and My Grandpa Fell of Mars co-producer with Croatia/Dim Studio.
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My screenplay explores the path leading to the meeting of a mother and daughter who don’t know each other, who have acutally never been in touch.
The story is a journey in the shape of a social drama with an unpolished poetry.
The story is inspired by the novel „Pan“ (1894) by the Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun. A man (a hunter) enters a small, coastal society and soon becomes intimately involved with two of the local women. The two woman are very different, they have opposite personalities, live in separated social spheres and do not have contact with each other. But in a small society everybody knows everybody, or at least they think they do.
Hamsun‘s story has been very much alive in me since I first read it as a teenager, but inside of me it has gradually, and subconciously, changed.
A few years ago I started to write down my own story and I soon realised that the reason for this was that Hamsun‘s original story had addapted to my own life, and it wouldn’t let me go.
The theme of my story is separation and alienation and my aim is to show these two phenomena at work on different levels, from the individual, via family and to the bigger society and even nature. This in order to paint a rich and nuanced picture of the two main characters, the mother and the daughter, their individual struggles as well as their conflicts with the society they live in.
I am often struck by the way strong, independent and original woman are perceived, in fact, they are often feared and that’s why I believe this story is important. I want to challenge prejudism against persons who very often find themselves alienated in society by no fault of their own.
Both mother and daughter are „outcasts“. They don’t fit in and they are looked upon with suspicion by their surroundings. Much of the reason for this is that they are also both strong and independent, although in very different ways.
In Hamsun’s story, a hunter enters a little society and stirs it up by being a weird stranger who engages with the local women. The hunter is surely a strange man, but Hamsun uses the wild and uncompromising nature surrounding the little town to indirectly explain and deepen our understanding of the hunter’s excentrisities. The descriptions of natur also helps the reader form a much more nuanced picture of the two women and of human nature itself.
In my story, the hunter has become an entomologist and I want to use the micro world of insects to put the human conflicts of the two women in perspective. Both women feel like parasites, within their family as well as in society, and the entomologist who enters the little town actually studies the life cycle of a parasiting caterpillar. This parasite, phengaris arion, must first fight off its siblings, then pretend to be an ant larva and get picked up by the ants. Then it must survive inside the ant nest and finaly escape as a fully developed butterfly, the large blue.
By showing the women the strange and often cruel behaviour in the micro world, both women slowly frees themselves from the chains of their faith and thus the entomologist, unknowingly, creates an arena for them to meet. Nature itself becomes the place where they can finaly breath freely, since even though nature can be cruel, it doesn’t judge.
I want to show that without understanding the details (the micro world/our inner world), we have no right to judge, and I want to show that when we see the details, it very often changes the big picture completely.
My aim is that this theme reflects in the audience in the same way that it reflects within the two women; by giving them a taste of emotional freedom and personal dignity.
I use four elements in the story in order to evoke one imporant phenomena: Escape, and the change from escape to confrontation.
The first three elements are; Running, Drug misuse and Sex
The daughter, Sandra (22), runs every day. She runs in the woods, but her running is not for fitness. Sandra has a childhood dream that won’t leave her: One day her mother will come back for her. So Sandra can’t leave the little town, she’s not able. Running is Sandra’s way of escaping the romantic dreams that haunt her.
The mother, Eva (37) has a past as a heroin addict. An obvious escape from a past where she was raped, became pregnant and then lost the baby child. Heroin is also connected with sleep, and sleep is a well known place of escape.
Both women have a past with a rather tragic sexuality. Sandra “sleeps around”, desperate for intimacy, for a relationship, but not able to attach to anyone.
Eva, needing money for drugs, sold her self. At the time, in her twisted mind, she believed that prostitution also gave her power over men and thus she could escape the trauma of having been raped.
Both women engage sexually with the entomologist (Karel, 26). At first it is unsuccessfull, sterile and uncomfortable. But gradually it gathers meaning, as a sort of re-creation, not in the sense of creating a baby, but in re-creating the two womens’ own identities as individuals as well as a unity.
The fourth element is a travelling fair.
The fair both opens and closes the story. In the beginning of the story, the fair works as a playground for fun, excitement, flirting and potential non-commiting sexual encounters. The fair is the official play ground for social acceptable escape.
In the end however, the fair becomes a back drop for the unification of mother and daughter, thus taking on its original function connected with the pilgrimage; personal confession, forgivenes and catharsis.
Visual concept and sound:
Format 2:35 Cinemascope fits the visual dramaturgy best. The story is very much about the contrasts and similarities between “the big picture, and the small picture”. The broad and beautiful image of the cinemascope seduces us into accepting without being critical; the revealing, uncomfortable details may be overlooked and we get the daydream we are familiar with and that comforts us. But through our cooperation with the producer Radim Prochaska and the nature documentarist Jan Hosek, we also use high definition footage from the undergrowth, the micro world, where there is no escape from reality.
The story has its own sources of music. At the fair is a little stage and on it performs “the accordion lady”, inspired by Raduza, and the town’s small men-choir. I have not yet been in touch with Raduza, but the strength of her voice and lyrics would fit the story very well. The possibilities with an accordion are perfect; the single tones, fragile and longing, goes beautifuly with the inner world of the two women as well as the mystic sound of the insect world.
For the men-choir I want to translate three songs from the swedish composer Carl Michael Bellman (1740 – 1795). In his lyrics we find much of the same contrast between cruel life and heavenly dreams that I am searching for in my story. In the three songs I want, he also sings about women who’s faith has many similarities to my main characters. I also like the fact that men are singing, as men are always setting the standard, even when they have no idea what they are talking about.
Concerning the leite-motif we are researching composers on Island, looking for elements of jazz and folk music which on Island tends to reflect their barren and wild nature as well as their lonely place on the planet, but powerful will to endure and survive.
The sound image is important and the story has a lot of sources from many different environments. A very subjective sound image would fit the story and emphazise the contrasts of inner and outer, small and big. Sound will also bring the micro world alive in a way we are not familiar with; the sounds of caterpillars and ants are unknown to most of us, just like we’ve never heard the sounds of our own soul.
Three films especialy inspire me, two for the cinematographic story telling and the third for the poesi of the story itself.
The first one is “Thelma and Louise” (Ridley Scott, 1991). The themes of rape and escape, freedom and chains, are clearly close to my own, and the cinematography is breathtaking. It’s interesting to notice that the cinematography very often treats logic with faboulus ignorance, every set-up is composed for the sake of the story, even the Grand Canyon is litted in the middle of the night.
The other is “The Deer Hunter” (Michael Cimino, 1978). In this film the contrast between human civilisation and natur playes out its drama on several levels. Man creates and destroys, but at the same time is created and destroyed.
The third film is “Teorema” (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968). Here the story itself is the big canvas, the characters are taken straight to the essence of their humanity by a mysterious guest, but they are left to deal with their humanity alone, separated from each other.
The term “Social drama” is in my mind very flat and I don’t like to use it. Humor is important in order to paint the tragedy clear and strong. Absurd elements sharpens the pain and survival often depends on the ability to laugh. “Thelma and Louise” is an exelent example of this. I therefor strive for a “light” mood in the story, letting especially the mother have a devilish attitude towards life. I also play with a delicate sense of fairy tale, this in connection with the daughter, to bring her childhood dreams to the surface. Almost all characters are pushed slightly towards charicature. A good example of this is “Fargo” (Joel Cohen, 1996).
Who would see this film?
Since the two main characters are women, and the story is about a mother and her daughter, it’s obvious to think that the story will appeal mostly to women in the age group of the main characters. But I strongly believe that the theme has a much wider range and that together with the visual storytelling, it will find a bigger audience. I definitely think students of both sexes will be interested, and also parents, not only the mothers, who’s children are entering adulthood will be curious. My aim is surely a commercial film; a sensitively unpredictable “roadmovie”.
The further development of the script will take the shape of co-operation to a much wider degree than it has so far. First of all this means working with our dramaturg Alice Krajcirova , but I also want to involve some of the main actors, specially Johana Matouskova (Sandra) and Eliska Vavrikova (Eva) in this prosess.
So far I have deliberately held a relative conservative style in the dialogues. Further work with dialogues will involve dramaturg, but also to a certain degree our translator Vaclav Pinkava.
I also want to go deeper into side characters, first of all Mrs. Ruzkova and Pepa.
One important element which needs to come more up into the story is the past, specially Eva’s past. To integrate the past without letting the characters “just tell about it” is certainly a challenge.
As I have mentioned, nature is important in the story. Together with our experts Jan Sobotnik and Jan Hosek, I want to further research the possibilites in the world of insects to find behavior and phenomena which reflects the story and specially the inner lives and life situations of Eva and Sandra.
There are also logical, structural elements to work with, editorial structure. The flow of time needs to be clear; how much time passes and have passed between the scenes througout the action.