International production of comrades

”Film financing today is a patchwork for better or worse.”

- The fascinating aspect of this story is that it turns the image of the enemy upside down. The Norwegians in the film are a threat to the main characters, says director Petter Næss about his upcoming antiwar film Comrade.

- The film has a classic and simple premise which brings down war to a personal level. It is about enemies who are forced to relate to one another and thereby challenging enemy images and prejudices, Petter Næss says.
On today’s “Mini-screen” at Totalen Kaffebar he is going to present his next feature film Comrade which is based on a true story about a German plane and a British plane that shot each other down over Norway during the days of the war. The soldiers from both wreckages sought refuge in the same cabin where both cooperation and friendship arose between them.
- I had a motto for the actors which was that everything they do is for the first time in their lives. The characters are trained pilots but it is the first time that they are shot down. It is the first time that they struggle through two-three meters of snow, they freeze, starve and have no idea where they are – and it is the first time that they encounter the enemy face to face.
On the list of actors, there is the Harry Potter star Rupert Grint and Florian Lukas from Good Bye Lenin. Comrade will premiere in spring 2012 and is Zentropa International Norway’s first Norwegian production. The film did not get production support from the Norwegian Film Institute, but is supported by several regional funds in Norway. Among these is Filmfondet Fuzz, which is why the film is edited in Bergen during the day.
- Film financing today is a patchwork for better or worse. It has also led me to work with some amazingly talented people from Germany on the production design, costume and makeup. This is an exciting and important story for the Germans who are usually portrayed in a completely different way in these kinds of films, the director says.

What do you think is the reason for the many World War II films being made these days?
- There has always been quite a profound interest in the heroic stories from the war in Norway, considering Shetlandsgjengen, Ni liv etcetera. The war was a state of emergency where you were seriously put to the test – ethically and morally, but also in terms of surviving. Of course there is a lot of drama and tension in the material from this, he answers. But he adds that he has never been particularly fascinated with the Second World War.
- This is not about the Oslo gang and how they chased the enemies out of our country. There are many more perspectives on the incidents from the war. These German pilots were told that they had to liberate Norway from the British which at this time had colonized a third of the world. As one of the German characters says: Maybe what our countries are doing is not that different.
The productive director is also working on a project about the German women and how the Norwegian authorities treated them.
- It is a dark story about how we, as a peace-loving nation, haven’t reconciled with our own, he says.
Næss also emphasizes the humor and the absurdity of Comrade as elements that attracted him.
- For example, they run out of toilet paper and Rupert Grint’s character has to use pages from “Mein Kampf” instead. This does not create the best atmosphere, the director says with a chuckle.


Original article found here: Haugesund International Film Festival August 24, 2011

Translated by Malene and Majbritt