The Danish-Brazilian Olmo & The Seagull won the Junior Jury Award for best film at the Locarno Film Festival this weekend.

The film, which was awarded the NORDIC:DOX AWARD at last year’s CPH:DOX festival, tells the complex tale of Oliva and her partner Serge. While rehearsing for Chekhov’s play The Seagull, Olivia finds out she is pregnant, and as the play unfolds the lines of their lives are blurred and swiftly disappear. The result is a hybrid film inspired by theatre arts and Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘Mrs. Dalloway’.

Brazil meets Denmark

The directors Petra Costa and Lea Glob, who where present and discussed the film at last year’s festival, met at CPH:DOX in 2012. The duo paired up as part of the project CPH:LAB, an international talent development and training program. Not knowing each other from before, the two filmmakers had quite different ideas on how to approach the project. While Glob wanted to go to Brazil and make a low-key documentary in the forest, Costa wanted to go to Denmark to make a film about a Danish actress. Consequently the filmmakers met somewhere in the middle, and decided to makeOlmo & The Seagull in a wide range of countries, including Brazil, Denmark, France, Portugal and Sweden.

Emotional authenticity

It is nevertheless the filmmakers’ mix of documentary and fiction that makes Olmo & the Seagull interesting, or what director Joshua Oppenheimer has called a “beautiful, tender, and endlessly fascinating” production. The film displays an emotional authenticity that not even professional actors can reenact. The borderline between reality and fiction is softened, which is especially exemplified in the scenes where Oliva and Serge talk directly to the camera. As Costa explained in an interview with CPH:DOX last year:

“Then they stop acting. It was a hard decision for us, whether or not to incorporate these   recordings in the film, but in the end it really made complete sense. It became, somehow,  the essence of what the film is trying to say.”