The Guest

Director Henrik Malmgren talks with MaltaFilmIcon about his short animation ‘The Guest’ and future projects.

Short Title: The Guest

Scripted and Directed by Henrik Malmgren

Synopsis: In a society where we take care of each other with bullets, the old widow Elsa is trapped in old habits. When her lonely dinner gets brutally interrupted, Elsa makes a decision that changes more than her own life, understanding that Paradise is lost without others.

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1) How long did it take to complete this short?


I did it all myself, except for about 3 percent of the character animation. The project involved a lot of learning and I had to make money on the side, which really dragged this project out for a bit more than 3 years. It was all worth it though.



2) Why is it in black and white sometimes also complemented by the red light?


The main character, Elsa, is living her life in the past. So I wanted to make the whole film point to that, by making it feel like an old document or photography, winking to the era of silent films. The red light is representing the outside threat to the friendship Elsa finds.



3) What's the real meaning behind this film?


Our contemporary western society drives people away from each other more and more. To get out of your lonelyhood sometimes you need to take to extreme measures. Actually being separated from others is not healthy and causes death according to research:


In this film I wanted something funny and slightly absurd to shed light on how extreme lonelyhood can be. With the growing racism and fear in our societies I wanted the old lady to stand out and be nice to a criminal of a different race. The end is a homage to Charlie Chaplin's The Tramp, where Chaplin's character rather stays in jail than goes back to society.



4) Do you think that 'guns' are associated with American Culture and therefore Europeans shouldn't implement them in their films?


American culture is unfortunately global and that should be discussed. Not all problems spring from the USA, but surely their irresponsible behaviour nationally and globally needs to be strongly questioned. In my film having a gun isn't really a positive thing. In 'The Guest', Elsa actively takes the gun away from the criminal, and the policemen use excessive violence, just like everyday all over the world, even in Denmark.



5) As a director what do you look for in films?


-Art should point us in a better direction. If a film doesn't - I turn if off. I want to be seduced. I don't care about effects. I don't like when the illusion is broken and you start noticing the framework and narrative structures.



6) Can you share with us some of your experiences and limitations while working in films?


Obviously economy. In our current paradigm no one is free, since everything needs to be profitable. That needs to change, and it will.



7) Do you think short movies or feature films are still an effective tool to send out messages to individuals/groups/societies?


Oh yes very much so. The more we can tear people away from corporate media and television in particular, the better. Full stories are rare these days, where the larger context is actively hidden. Films can, and should, help to show people how things are connected, so they can respond to their situations.



8) Any future projects?


Yes. ;) Obviously it is limited what you can cram into the first short film you make. For the next project I have not decided on the media yet, but there is an ocean of stories to be told, and I want to help tell some of them.