An Interview with Johan Lundborg (Director)
Capturing Each Life with Natural Light
Q: What made you want to film the traveling sales van?
JL: I was born and raised in the town that appears in the film. I grew up with the traveling sales van. They were always heroes, and we’d go shopping when the van came every Friday. Also, the traveling sales van is important in the countryside in Sweden, as small stores are closing down one by one with the impact of big chain stores. Of course their role is to go around selling food, but they also have a larger function as a guardian angel. There was a time when they found someone who was having a heart attack, and they called an ambulance.
In order to make this film about the traveling sales van, I started filming their customers. I was thinking of having my own grandmother appear in the film too. I was also filming Albert, who left a big impression living in his home without electricity or running water. At that point, it happened that my grandmother decided to visit a nursing home. I learned that Albert was thinking of entering a nursing home too. They come from completely different social classes, but were confronting the same issue. This project fleshed out when I connected the two of them in my mind.
Q: In the question and answer session following the screening you said that one of the people in the film, Greta, is your own grandmother. How did you create a relationship with Albert?
JL: When I started filming it was difficult work because he was so introverted. At first, he spoke about how much he adored his mother and how he had received his mother’s immense love. Once we were in the second and third year of filming, I gradually began to think that maybe he hadn’t been so happy. Then I asked him more questions, and he started to talk with me more. At times he said that he didn’t want to talk further, because it was just too sensitive. I think we built a deep relationship during the three years of filming. I was visiting him in order to film, but he received me as a guest. I mean, he didn’t have many other guests, so he was in need of someone to talk with. In a sense, I was using that. Of course, it is necessary to separate friendships from work when making a documentary. Although that is difficult for a single human being to do . . . .
Q: There is a vivid contrast between Albert’s dark room and Greta’s colorful room. Did you do this intentionally?
JL: I don’t use artificial light, so I just used the light that was there. Albert’s room was extremely dark, and some cameramen might have brought in lights, but I didn’t want to. I mean, he was sitting in that dark room, like he wished himself to be forgotten by the world. I wanted to show his life and position just as it was. As a result, I think that the dark screen symbolized his circumstances.
Q: Are you planning to make films in Sweden in the future?
JL: Yes. The traveling sales van that appears in this film has been in use for the past two decades, but the owner’s son buys a new vehicle. It is a really forward thinking thing to do. Everything is shrinking in the countryside, but this person is trying to make an investment for the future. This fall I want to start shooting a film about the father and son. I also want to shoot a feature film, and am currently writing a script.
(Compiled by Hikino Nagisa)
Interviewers: Hikino Nagisa, Hayasaka Mitsuko / Interpreter: O Aimi
Photography: Abe Akiko / Video: Oyama Daisuke / 2005-10-08