"Anna" + an interview with director Helena Stefánsdóttir!

Not too long ago, I had the good fortune of watching the endearingly strange Anna, by Wonderland Films' Helena Stefánsdóttir. I was so intrigued by it that I just had to get a hold of the director herself for a little chat via email about this gem of a film, along with some background on the other great films she's made. 

What I love about Anna is the layering of emotion. In turns sad, funny, dead serious and down right odd, the film takes the viewer on a short and beautiful ride through the life of a woman with Tourettes, who just can't stop herself from imitating what everyone else does around her. Anna is going out to run an errand, seemingly preparing for a date that includes coffee and some rather cartoonish muffins. By the time she comes back home, Anna is disheveled, crying hysterically, and can't handle her problem anymore. I of course won't give away the film's clever ending, but just know that it'll make you see things very differently from now on.

You can check out the film here on Icelandic Cinema Online, or, email me for exclusive free access via password on Vimeo! konstruksjontext @ gmail.

Helena Stefánsdóttir's background in dance and the arts influence a lot of her work. You can read more about that and some of the backstory behind Anna in this article from the wonderful folks at Rushprint. The Icelandic native is also influenced by the likes of Maya Deren, Wim Wenders, and David Lynch among others.

How did you develop Wonderland Films? Why?
I started Wonderland when I was in a physical theatre school in Paris. My intention was to start my own theatre company when I would go back to Iceland, and I wanted to have a company around that. I have been a fan of Lewis Carroll for quite a while - that's where the name comes from. It has such an incredibly wide and deep meaning.   

I’d like to know more about how you choose your material in general when you write.
I don't consciously choose the material I work with. The images come to me, and if I they stick around in my head and grow into a character or a situation, I start writing. From image to script writing is usually a long process and then when I start concrete writing it goes faster. At that point, the walls in my work space are covered with words, drawings, images and  pictures, like a clip board. 

I often get inspired by events or stories of real people, but also by good music or art and sometimes even films or photos. 

Are there any artists, writers or people in film that you hope to work with in the near future?
I would like to experiment with music and sound in my films - like having the sound live at the premier for instance. There is one artist musician, Helgi Svavar, whom I would very much like to work with on that.

I am gradually finding out whom I like to have on my team and there are a few people in the film field here in Iceland that I always want to work with again and again. Arnar, my partner, who is also the editor of most of my films, is one of them and then there is Unnur Andrea, who is honestly the only costume designer I can think of working with. I also have to mention Marta Macuga, a props master and art director and a solid friend - I would hardly consider making a film without her. :)

On Wonderland Films' webpage you can learn more about previous and upcoming releases. I was treated to getting to watch Pas de tros (a choreography for camera about a couple who can't be together), Bon Appétit (a journey into a hotel maid's moral dilemma - look out for a great homage to a recent film), and the documentary Silent Voices (about the devastating effects that the global hunt for energy sources is having on Iceland and its residents).

You can catch these and other works by Wonderland Films at various festivals around the world, including this week's Haugesund International Film Festival in Haugesund, Norway. 

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