Stockholm My Love is the first dramatic feature by acclaimed documentarian Mark Cousins (I am Belfast, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, A Story of Children and Film) and stars the Swedish-born singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry in her film debut. Neneh also performs five new songs on the soundtrack. After its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October, the film will be released by the BFI in selected cinemas UK-wide and on BFI Player on 16 June 2017, followed by a BFI DVD/Blu-ray release on 26 June. Mark Cousins and Neneh Cherry will take part in post-screening Q&As at some venues.
Neneh Cherry is fantastic in her first major acting role what was she like to work with as a director?
Neneh is a star yet a mensch. Look at her through a viewfinder and you see something special. At lunch break everyone wants to sit beside her because she’s so lovely. It was moving working with her, because she’s open and trusting. She’s not cynical or demanding. She instinctively understood that we were trying to make good, moving images. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat.
The movie portrays Stockholm as a very calm and serene place a bit Zen like, was that something you were intentionally trying to get across?
Stockholm has its social problems and anxieties, and we didn’t shy away from them, but it’s less of a melodrama than the city where I was brought up, Belfast, and less of a party than London, Mumbai or New York. It’s got the density of a major city, but not as much of the chaos. My co-writer Anita Oxburgh and I were trying to show that balance. Cities are melting pots, they are places where anything goes and, to a degree, you can be whoever you want to be. But they also have routines and rituals. I love both, and we think Stockholm is good at both.
You have spent a lot of time in Sweden, how would describe typical characteristics of Swedes?
To be honest, it’s hard now to generalise about Swedes. The country is changing. It looks to the future and the past. Its (mostly) generous response to the refugee crisis has added new layers, yet Swedes still have a powerful feeling for landscape, the archipelago, country homes and, in many instances, the Swedish social democratic model. Again, I learnt so much from co-writer and producer Anita Oxburgh on this subject. She is a Swede who lived in Scotland for many years. Swedes are modern, romantic, punctual, wild, literal, consensual and beautiful.
Is it fair to say that the film was a bit of a departure for you as it had a dramatic structure to it?
It was a departure in that the story was made up! But in other ways, it was not so new for me. Stockholm MyLove is, like many of my other films, about a solitary walker. It’s observational, has little synch sound, is in one person’s head and is about recovery. I love those things, and keep returning to them.
The film proved that you have a flair for creating a believable narrative, would you consider writing say a thriller set in Berlin?
That’s the strangest question I’ve ever been asked (though was once quizzed about whether I wear double denim – I do)! I love Berlin, and have been going there since the late 1980s. The city is a thriller or, rather an onion with layers to unpeel. It would be hard to make a bad film in Berlin. I’d like to make one set entirely in Tretower.
What can we expect to see of yours in the future?
Bees make honey and I make films, so I’ve quite a few things in the pipeline: A 22 hour film (I know), and a one frame film…