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The Blind Waltz

About this film

The Blind Waltz by Swedish video artist Sebastian Eklund is dream-like portrait that might remind one, in parts, of animations. His negative images, often doubled on the screen, create illusions, dreams, fictive worlds which make the viewer melt into the images.

A man enters his house. He has a shower, gets ready for something we are not yet aware of. The stunning images take us on a journey through his house while the crisp-clear sound makes one believe that what is happening is happening around us, in our own home. Eklund’s visual and aural treatment is almost hyperreal and it finds its climax during the blind waltz that is almost illusionary and yet, it is real.

Nadin Mai (tao films)

Interview with the Director
Sebastian, I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure where to start with our interview. There is so much to say about your film, and yet perhaps it shouldn’t be described at all. Perhaps you can tell me a little about where the idea for A Blind Waltz comes from?

It actually stems from two ideas that I had, in close succession time-wise. One was in relation to the feeling of a high-rise where the windows are starting to light up at night, creating glimpses of everyday life. The second idea was for the dance sequence. At the beginning I imagined it as two pillars of smoke and originally I was thinking of projecting the two dancers onto the smoke and record them as they became entwined. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the two ideas were actually two parts of the same one. No matter how close we get to someone, we can only really see the small windows that are lighting up. The rest we invent ourselves as we try to get closer, dancing with each other.

Both images and sound are outstanding. They’re in perfect symbiosis, which isn’t always the case in film, not even in arthouse film. I know that you did the music for the film yourself. How did you go about this? Did you have a melody in your head and then made the film, or was it the other way around?

Thank you. I find it to be one of the many intriguing, important and, of course, also challenging things about filmmaking: the fact that it allows you and demands of you to navigate so many aspects and parts that are in constant and direct relation to each other - photography and sound and movement and time itself. And that’s just naming a few. When visualising a sequence or a scene or an entire film, I think you must always remember to listen and I think what you can hear if you listen carefully will, in the best cases, be a mix of a reality relating to the image itself and the pure feeling of it all.

Regarding the music, it actually fell in place quickly. I returned to the school in France that I was attending at the time, after being home in Sweden for the winter break, and I was eager to get started with the project. To film the dance scene, we needed something to dance to so, like you said, I heard the melody in my head (after I knew what the film would be like) and I made the music one of the first nights back. At first I figured I would need to go back and rework it afterwards, but when I tried it out it just seemed right.

A very straightforward question: Is your film real, or is it an illusion? Is it a dream?

I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I cannot answer that. I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m not certain of it myself anymore or if it’s perhaps just some part of me that doesn’t want to give it away.

When one sees your film, one cannot help but think that the post-production was possibly the most important part of creating this piece. Can you tell us about the post-production process and what gear you used, both for filmmaking and for the editing?

Actually not too much was done in post. Obviously, the dancers were merged together and it was turned into black-and-white and negative etc., but other than that, most of it was done while planning and shooting. It was a complete no-budget project and I only used my old phone (iPhone 4s) as a camera, holding a glass prism in front of the lens to crack the image. My good friend Rasmus Thomsson, who plays the lead, is a painter and we used his easels and canvases to build makeshift sliders for the camera movement. If I remember correctly the post-production was done in Final Cut and the sound was mixed in Ableton.

What decided about the very specific (and stunning) aesthetics about the film? I’m speaking in particular about the negative image.

I wanted to create a feeling of separate places or stages or levels within the same room, where the two present parties coexisted - on the one hand, close enough to touch each other and yet, on the other, completely separated.

I have seen your other films, and there seems to be a strong focus on the night, darkness and obscurity in your work. Can you tell me more about this?

I think it may have something to do with the natural limitations and the subsequent mystique that interests me. It's the same thing with fog, which is another one of my obsessions. You are only able to see a limited scene, like a set stage, and as you move along or focus enough that very scene may slowly evolve into something else. A constant state of creation and decay.

What can we expect next from you?

I’m working on two projects at the moment. A short film called Cirkus that I'm currently shooting and an exhibition that will take place in Gothenburg later this fall.

Thank you for this interview.