60 years old | Director Ulrika Bengts wanted to make films and see the world – in Stockholm she got to learn from Hungarian and Polish filmmakers, and Ingmar Bergman

Ulrika Bengts believes in the realization of movies only when the cameras visit.

High school after 1980 Ulrika Bengts went to Åbo Akademi University to study political science and specialized in journalism. He had already been a summer journalist at Närpes Tidning. Turku’s film offer enchanted the growth of the small village.

“Back then, there were a lot of cinemas showing good movies. Already From Fassbinder came alone with several movies a year. After graduating, I had an identity crisis at the age of 23: who am I, where am I going? ”

The answer was provided by a randomly found brochure from the Dramatiska Institutet. Bengts wanted to make movies and went to Stockholm to study. Applying to Finland didn’t even occur to him, because he wanted to see the world.

“There were teachers from Poland and Hungary. Guidance teacher János Herskó had taught in his time István Szabóa, surgery teacher Krystyna Leśniewska had worked Andrzej Wajdan with, and Ingmar Bergman attended workshops and lectures, ”Bengts recalls excitedly.

After graduation Bengts returned to Finland. He arrived in Helsinki in December 1989, which was a new city for him again. For the first half of the year, he spent the backpacking life of acquaintances traveling in Kämp across the city. The last 20 years have been in Lauttasaari.

Bengts got involved in Yle’s Sparrausrinki project, where young promising directors made half-length films for television. Jörn Donnerin produced by Goodbye Gibraltar (1993) even exceptionally got into the theater, as among others Markku Pölönen Land of happiness.

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“Memorabilia Goodbye Gibraltar the descriptions are happy. We were enthusiastic young filmmakers. Many members of the group became long-term co-workers, such as a photographer Robert Nordström. ”

In 1996 Bengts and his colleagues set up Talking Heads for eight years. Bengts has also done auditions and in this century he has worked in theater.

Bengts hasn’t done documentaries in a decade, not even Now you are Hamlet (2002) received the Best Documentary Award and the main prize of the Pärnu Film Festival at the Lübeck Nordic Film Days.

“Documentary is a wonderful genre, but it seems to be getting harder all the time. Real TV destroyed perceptions of what a documentary is. On the other hand, responsibility began to weigh on when working with the right people. What gives the right to use another person’s story? ”

Took over 20 years after graduation, before Bengts got to direct his first feature film. Finnish-Swedish co-production, Children’s film from the 1890s Iris premiered in 2011.

“I have made my production in my native Swedish. I can’t say if I could have done a long time faster if I had done it in Finnish. ”

Also Bengts’ second feature film Apprentice (2013) takes place in history, on the eve of war in 1939. The psychological thriller tells of a power struggle between a lighthouse master and an apprentice on a remote island.

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Apprentice was a special project. We photographed it in the middle of the Åland Sea on a lighthouse island where no one had lived for 50 years. There were only waterfowl and snakes. Fantastic place. ”

Made in the harsh conditions of the island of Lågskär Apprentice is a visually handsome film. Bengts ’main work to date has received a few awards from around the world, including the Rome Festival.

Bengts says both of his feature films are in history by chance. His most recent extensive work, a six-part TV series Lola upside down (2016) ranks in modern times.

Now Bengts is working on two projects. Among them the TV series Maria Lizelia would continue historical themes. It received development support from the Film Foundation in December.

“The series is about midwives in Turku in 1759. I write it Hanna Åkerfeltin with. He found a professor Kirsi Vainio-Korhonen the book Unobtrusive – The history of midwives, childbirth and everyday life, which tells about Finland ‘s first midwives. Hanna brought the topic to my producer Mats Långbackallewho proposed the project to me. ”

Johanna Holmström in a book based on a book Asphalt angels in turn, the main language would be Finnish for the first time in Bengts’ career. However, it would also speak Arabic and Swedish.

The main character, 15-year-old Leila, has a Finnish-Swedish mother and an Arabic-speaking father, but she lives in a Finnish-speaking environment. Bengts says Leila lives in a space between cultures where different sides do not easily meet.

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“Yes, I don’t believe in the realization of any project until we’re filming. I like making both series and movies. Their biggest difference is in the way they handle the material. The film is like an oil painting and the series is like a fresco. ”

Bengts has just finished his one-year temporary wash as a playwright at Svenska Yle. In turn, it offered a new kind of view of its own industry.

“It’s hard for a director to write their own scripts because the process takes a really long time. I learned a lot while working with other texts. It allowed you to enter different worlds and temperaments. “

Ulrika Bengts

  • Born in Ylimarku (later Närpiö) in 1962.

  • Studied political science at Åbo Akademi University 1980–1985, film and television directing at the Dramatiska Institutet in Stockholm 1986–1989, and theater directing and dramaturgy at the Theater Academy 2005–2007.

  • Controls include: a half-length film Goodbye Gibraltar (1993), documentaries Now you are Hamlet (2002), TV series Farewell (2010) and Lola upside down (2016).

  • Feature Films: Iris (2011) and Apprentice (2013).

  • Founder and partner of Talking Heads 1996-2004.

  • Received, among other things, the Svenska kulturfonden’s Grand Cultural Award 2014.

  • Married to composer Peter Hägerstrand. Three adult children.

  • Turns 60 on Friday, January 14th.

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