Iranian-born Danish brothers Mehdi Avaz and Milad Avaz took a big punt on making this film. Their first feature, it was privately funded, outside of the Danish government-funding framework, and made for under $500 000 US.
It is a gamble that has more than paid off, in a film which has garnered massive popular success and well-deserved critical acclaim.
Based on true events, it tells the story of Kristian, (Sebastian Jessen) who has moved to Jutland, away from his surrogate family and girlfriend. He hasn’t been back home for five years. When his uncle comes to tell him that his surrogate father is dying, he makes the difficult decision to return to the people who rejected him and who blame him for a tragic accident years before.
While We Live examines family relationships with an authenticity rarely seen on screen. It asks the unaskable question: How much is it possible to love someone else’s child? Outstanding as Kristian’s “mother” Hanne, is Charlotte Munck. Her grief and pain slice through the camera. In the small but pivotal role of “father” Peter is the wonderful Nicolas Bro. And starring opposite Jessen, as his estranged girlfriend Trine, is the faultless Julie Christiansen (see our interview with her on Glam). As a cast, this is both a team of champions and a champion team. It is true ensemble work.
Milad Avaz has written a tight script which manages to be both poetic and realistic. Mehdi Avaz directs with an assurance which belies the fact that this is his first feature. This is a work which challenges, moves, excites, and asks more questions than it answers. It is a film which stays with you for days afterwards. There is not a missed beat; not a flat note.
This is masterful film-making.
While We Live screens as part of the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival at Palace Cinemas Eastend and Prospect.
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