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TRIBECA 2021

Thomas Daneskov • Director de Wild Men

"A los niños se les enseña a no hablar de sus sentimientos"

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- Olvidaos de las motos: en Wild Men, la crisis de la mediana edad gira alrededor de un arco con flechas y pieles de animal

Thomas Daneskov  • Director de Wild Men
(© Petra Kleis)

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

World-premiering in the International Narrative Competition of the Tribeca Film Festival, Wild Men [+lee también:
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shows Martin (Rasmus Bjerg), leaving his comfortable existence behind to hide away in the mountains – not that his wife knows it yet. But once he meets the injured Musa (Zaki Youssef), on the run from the law, things are bound to get messier. We talked to director Thomas Daneskov about the film.

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Cineuropa: The viewer feels like they might know Martin; we have all met guys like that. All they want is to be left alone.
Thomas Daneskov: My producer, Lina Flint, and I had been working on a story about how men react to crisis. This is perhaps the most extreme version of that, him going all the way back to the Stone Age, but it has to do with how we raise our children. How we raise boys, not encouraging them to talk about their feelings, telling them to “be a man”. They become really bad at communicating, but at some point, life is going to hit you. You are going to get a divorce, get fired or sick, and then you just don’t have the tools! I think it’s a very serious issue. These men, they drink more, and they kill themselves more. They are so lonely.

What he does, choosing to live in such a primitive way, is just absurd. Especially as he can’t really deliver on that front either, still using his smartphone or heading to a supermarket in his time of need.
He probably thought: “If my wife could just stop nagging and I could get some time by myself, with an axe, I would show them.” He thinks he doesn’t need anything or anyone – except for this axe – but of course you do. This Viking village that we show in the film, so many people are really doing all of that in Sweden and Norway, and maybe it will eventually get a hold of Denmark as well, after this movie comes out. It’s seasonal work – they go and pretend to be Vikings for six months, living without any internet because they want to feel something real. We found many places where you can get this “authentic” experience, but you have to pay for it.

This idea that you would pay to be deprived of modern comforts, that’s white privilege as we know it. Is that why you wanted to give him a companion who has led a completely different life?
With Musa, I don’t think he’s ever had the time to think about all the things Martin worries about. It was much more about survival for him growing up, I imagine. There is something very white privilege-y about lapsing into navel-gazing to such an extent that you have to run to the mountains and create your own obstacles. Then again, we see it all the time. This guy in his fifties, riding his new motorcycle? He also wants to feel something, instead of watching Netflix and not talking to his wife.

They don’t seem to learn much from each other, however, which is what an American buddy movie would surely focus on.
This story takes place over the course of four days, so what can you learn in such a short period of time? In that sense, we wanted to keep it realistic. Once we had written the script, we went to see a psychiatrist who has been studying men’s behaviour in crisis situations. He told us that when guys are feeling down, finding new friends and rebooting their social network helps. Nobody can do it by themselves. When you make a film based on the premise that men are really bad at talking about their issues, it’s hard to suddenly have them opening up. But we use these other characters as mirrors, reflecting Martin’s situation. Musa could be a younger version of him; the policeman chasing them could be him 30 years from now.

Once you introduce the investigation part of it all, it feels like something out of a Coen brothers’ movie, with hapless locals and a police dog that is never at work.
We went to Norway on a location scout with Lina. We wanted to see how the local police operate, but we just couldn’t find them! The office was open every second Wednesday, for two hours. The whole place felt very Fargo-like, which is one of my favourite films. We found a lot of inspiration in that.

It’s always risky to use the “nagging wife” trope, which is what you have here as well. The only positive female character is dead!
I don’t think she is a nagging wife, necessarily – she is the only reasonable person in the film! Martin’s wife is not being unfair; she just wants to talk to him. He is the one being an idiot. She is everything that he needs, and she is very understanding, but I don’t think he has ever opened up to her. He has never told her that he was feeling bad. She needed to slap him in the face. He needed it; the film needed it. She goes: “There must be some explanation for this. Just tell me.” And what comes out of his mouth is so ridiculous. It’s very satisfying when she finally does it [laughs].

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