Mar 20, 2009

Have you ever wanted superpowers?

We've all seen the foreign language and short film categories at the Academy Awards. Usually it's a snooze-fest. When are they going to start recognizing genius creations like this one? Don't let the subtitles put you off, this is superb.


"This is the story of Arne (Trond Gil), who is convinced he has superpowers. He just hasn't found them yet. So he decides to put up a wanted note for an archenemy, hoping that it will help him discover his true powers."

Then again, The Dark Knight was nominated for a few Oscars this year so maybe we're not so far off. "Nemesis" was sent to me earlier this week and I was so impressed I felt compelled to find out more about it. I spoke with 23-year-old Norwegian Writer/Director Stian Hafstad who's set to graduate from the University of Bergen, Norway in June. Yup, this was made by college students. 

Hafstad studied Animation after graduating high school but thought it was time to "grow up" and switched to Economics, something that didn't last long. "I quickly discovered that I'm still too young to do the safe thing, so I started studying Film & TV production instead," he said. It's a safe bet that was a wise decision, he had the idea of the bus portions of the film since high school. "I've always been fascinated by the concept of super powers. Mainly because it is so extremely fun in itself, but also because it works so great as a metaphor for so many other things," he said.

A short that could have been a simple superhero comedy gets flushed out into a buddy movie with heart. Hafstad could have gone with a traditional love story for his script but instead chose to explore something that fascinates him. Male friendship. "I'm thinking that it might be hard for someone to stand up and say: 'Hey, I'm lonely. I could use a friend,', simply because you'll at once be viewed as a failure. So I came up with an idea of a lonely guy who had that dilemma, but managed to find a way around," he said. That's what makes "Nemesis" stand out. That, and the magnificent performances by all the actors involved.

Considering the subject matter, you'd assume Hafstad is a huge comic book fan. Actually, he doesn't read them. "It is a bit weird because I love superheroes, but I've never really been that into superhero comics," he said. Although he does enjoy Calvin & Hobbes and a Norwegian comic strip called Pondus. You may have also noticed the use of NBC's Heroes in the background of the film. "We chose to use a clip from Heroes because it says quite a bit about our character. The people in Heroes are at the place he wants to be," he said. Halfstad even owns one of the paintings from the show.

Hafstad gained some Youtube popularity last year with his hip-hop Bert & Ernie mash up. He also somewhat convincingly edited himself and a friend into the trailer for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. His other, more serious work includes documentaries, but all are in Norwegian without subtitles.

Like most film students, Halfstad dreams of making blockbuster films in Hollywood one day. "Hopefully someone will give me a chance to write and direct a feature film with a budget to do whatever I want," he joked, "But dreams aside, I just hope I'm able to get a job when I graduate." If he keeps making movies like this, he won't need powers to make his dream come true and maybe by the time he gets there, a superhero film will finally be worthy of an Oscar. 


You can also view and discuss this article at GEN.

7 comments:

Andy said...

What a great short film - very creative!

If there had been singing it could have been a Norwegian "Doctor Horrible"!

Ken said...

Wow, that was great! High production value and smart story.

yourcomicrelief said...

Woah, that was pretty amazing. Subtitles, incidentally enough, are something of a comfort factor for me, having grown up overseas.

mc pvc said...

That film is pure genus. i loved it!

Chovengo said...

Thks for the film it was really cool

Laid Off said...

Did you see the Confessions of a Superhero? Was surprised how good it was. Also found myself rooting for the guy who's nerdily obsessed with Superman. Gives new definition to "true believer."

The Nerdy Bird said...

I haven't seen it but I've heard good things.