EDA Awards @ IDFA 2015 Filmmaker Interview: Kari Anne Moe on REBELS

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kari annwRebels, one of ten films nominated for the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary at IDFA 2015, is about the problems faced by disenfranchised youths in Norway. Filmmaker Kari Anne Moe takes a tough yet sympathetic look at the struggles of Norwegian dropouts enrolled in a special social welfare program created to help them renter the mainstream. IDFA’s catalog description of the film is copied below. Here’s what filmmaker Kari Anne Moe has to say about her experience:

AWFJ: What did you learn about the subject/theme from making the film?

KARI ANNE MOE: I learned that when young people are facing problems in school it’s often about trouble happening outside of school. The kids I met in the Rebel-project touched me in a strong way. It’s not easy to learn if you feel you’re a shit. And it’s not easy to concentrate on building a CV when you don’t have a place to live.


AWFJ: What did you learn about filmmaking from making the film?

KAM: How important it is to actually spend enough time. The cinematographer and I were present every day for six weeks in a row – this made it possible to get very close to the group. It’s not about filming all the time, but it’s about being present and observe – I could see how the main-characters were doing when they arrived in the morning, because we got to know each other so well. Often I knew how a situation would develop, before it actually happened.

AWFJ:: What were your biggest challenges? Gaining trust? Filming conditions? Making a coherent story or creating impact through edited juxtapositions?

KAM: The location. We are filming in a tight space with ugly office-look. Then it was important to find an extraordinary photographer – Nils Petter Lotherington captures the beauty of the kids and their emotional drama outshines the location.

AWFJ: : Do you think that being female gave you a distinct perspective and/or way of handling the filmmaking process? If so, please let us know how. If not, please let us know your thoughts about this question.

KAM: I think it definitely gives me distinct perspectives. And I also think class-background, skin-color and age does too. I think I am more aware of how I portray the girls in my films. For example – in my too last films – Bravehearts and Rebels – I really wanted to tell strong stories about girls without “finding a boyfriend / husband” being a part of the story. I think it’s important to tell stories about a diversity of girls – and hopefully make the space wider when it comes to role models.

AWFJ: What advice do you have for other female Filmmakers who are trying to make their way through a still male-dominated industry?

KAM: Get to know some of your wonderful female colleagues and make each other stronger. I will always be grateful for all the support I’ve had from other women in the Norwegian film industry.

IDFA Notes on Rebels: These Norwegian dropouts are rebellious, aggressive and indifferent when they embark on a special course to help get them to work. All of them are around 20, and society already views them as failures. The coaches’ task is to give back these rebellious youths their self-esteem. It’s a job that demands a lot of mental strength – and sometimes physical strength as well. The fact is that no matter how much you want to give up old habits, it’s hard to leave your past behind you. Jakob just can’t stay away from alcohol. Maylen’s ADHD means she’s finding it difficult to get her life under control. Kelly was bullied as a child and she’s painfully shy. In the surprising intimacy of the group, they hesitantly start to flourish. Rebels plays out almost entirely in the classroom, where the camera follows group lessons and one-on-one coaching sessions. The chief protagonist is Jan Olav – recently released from jail, he’s determined to make something of his life. He’s dyslexic and always struggled in school, but now he’s dreaming of becoming a famous rapper. Jan Olav is equal parts endearing and unpredictable, even to himself. How can you change when everyone is expecting the worst from you?

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