Fia-Stina Sandlund: She’s Blonde Like Me

CPH:DOX on a November afternoon. I am watching a filmmaker’s film about her filmmaking and herself. Afterwards, I watch the filmmaker telling us about her film about herself and her filmmaking. I’m always interested in the creative process so I’m all eyes and ears.

The filmmaker, Fia-Stina Sandlund, surely wants to confuse us, though. In this film, she is taking her lead character to the famous art Biennale in Venice to make a performance which will serve not only as a performance but also as an audition and a step towards making a rendition of Swedish playwright August Strindberg’s “Miss Julie”. We quickly meet Alexandra Dahlström as the protagonist and from then on she rarely leaves the frame until the last 15 minutes or so. The filmmaker (Sandlund) is ever present on the soundtrack since large portions of the film consists of the two blonde girls talking about their project which only is revealed sporadically. Sandlund is sometimes seen on the edge of the frame, and we get the feeling that they both are serious artists; Dahlström is dedicated, a bit sulky at times, maybe even troubled. We also get the feeling that she could easily play Julie. Or Sandlund. Maybe she does the latter already? I know, it sounds confusing, but it’s really not. Not yet, at least.

As a viewer one looks for things to get involved with and in this case they throw us some small intellectual goodies about Strindberg and his play “Miss Julie” and it’s clear that Strindberg fascinates the protagonist(s) with his ambiguous view on women. I, more predictably, notice how much Dahlström looks like Scarlett Johansen from certain angles. Dahlström IS a sight for sore eyes – and you may know her from “Fuckin’ Åmål” – but I sometimes just want to poke her (and Sandlund) in the eye. The film is namely shot less delightfully and my fascination and my irritation struggle to get the upper hand. The film is both bold and boring, arguably too long but surely original and not without humour.

The moment in the film which the women have prepared for comes: the performance with Dahlström playing Sandlund. But the weather pulls their legs; the electricity goes away and the performance is aborted. At least in the film. And then a true avant-garde moment appears: A woman – whom we have never seen before – coughs. Violently. Now I’m confused. The woman turns out to be some kind of clairvoyant and she’s having a séance to get some other hitherto unseen women closer to Strindberg. I forget that I want to cast Dahlström for almost anything but I don’t forget Sandlund’s project. Kudos to that.

The film is the first in a trilogy where the third supposedly will be a version of “Miss Julie” with Dahlström as Julie, since she passed the “audition”. This Sandlund tells us afterwards on this November afternoon. Film number two, “She’s Staging It”, will be a depiction of a theatre workshop in New York were they will be working on saving Julie from the suicide she presumably commits after curtains in “Miss Julie”.  I’m somewhat disturbed by the fact that I want to see both.

Fia-Stina Sandlund: She’s Blonde Like Me, Sverige, 2011. 89 min.

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Mikkel Stolt
Mikkel Stolt
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