Category Archives: Interviews

BEHIND THE REAL WORLD: JOHANESS NYHOLM ON KOKO-DI, KOKO-DA

Note: The following interview may contain slight spoilers for Koko-di, Koko-da.

Koko-Di Koko-Da Director Johannes Nyholm_sm
Johannes Nyholm (photo courtesy Fantasia Film Festival)

is a Swedish animator and filmmaker with two features under his belt: the humanistic fantasy The Giant [Jätten] (2016) and 2019’s horrific Koko-Di, Koko-Da (read Giles Edwards’ complete review).

Koko-di debuted at Sundance, won the “Camera Lucida” prize at Fantasia, and is currently playing at Austin’s Fantastic Fest (catch the final screening on September 26). Dark Star Pictures has acquired the movie for a November 15 U.S. theatrical release.

The title comes from a macabre children’s nursery rhyme (“my rooster is dead, he will never sing koko-di koko-da”). The story involves a married couple—once loving, now squabbling—who go on a camping trip in the woods four years after a tragedy ripped their lives apart. Once there, they wake in the middle of the night to find the same events repeating themselves. Three figures trudge out of the woods: an old man dressed in white, a tall female leading a vicious dog, and a unibrowed giant with a dead dog slung over his shoulder. The trio terrorize the campers; then, they wake up in their tent, as if from a dream, and the cycle repeats itself. The man becomes conscious of what is happening and futilely tries new strategies to avoid their fate. All the while there is also a mysterious white cat running around in the woods, and scenes from a bizarre shadow play where animal puppets reenact a peculiar fable that seems relevant to the couple’s personal history. Will they escape this treadmill of horror and recrimination?

Koko-d Koko-da Key art
(c) 2019 Johannes Nyholm Produktion

366 Weird Movies’ spoke with Mr. Nyholm via telephone.

366: Would you consider this a Swedish or a Danish film? According to IMDB both languages are spoken in the film.

Johaness Nyholm: Mostly Swedish. We shot most parts in Sweden, and most of the team was Swedish as well. But I have a Danish co-producer who helped a lot on the film, and there is quite a lot of Danish spoken, especially from one character in the film.

366: I think it’s fair to say that this is a mysterious movie, in many ways, and I wanted to know if you thought there were any cultural references that Scandinavian audiences might pick up on that people in other countries might not get.

JN: No, I don’t think so, actually… the music is a French lullaby.

366: I was wondering if the “Koko-di Koko-da” song was written specifically for the movie or if it’s a traditional folk song.

JN: No, it’s a traditional folk song. Of course, we made many different versions of it.

366: Peter Belli is a well-known Danish singer. Did you have him in Continue reading BEHIND THE REAL WORLD: JOHANESS NYHOLM ON KOKO-DI, KOKO-DA

RAW AUDIO: ZACH LIPOVSKY AND ADAM STEIN, MAKERS OF “FREAKS”

Listener beware: this interview may contain mild spoilers for the upcoming sci-fi movie Freaks (in U.S. theaters September 13).

Giles Edwards sat down to talk with co-writers/co-directors Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein about Freaks, their indie science fiction collaboration about a 10-year-old girl whose father keeps her locked inside and warns her never to leave the house. But the ice cream man outside the door really wants to sell her a cone. Featuring a remarkably assured performance by young Lexy Kolker, co-starring Emile Hirsch as her paranoid father and a creepy Bruce Dern as “Mr. Snowcone.”

THE MAN BEHIND “THE MOON”: A CONVERSATION WITH TAKAHIRO UMEHARA

Perhaps my Japanese hand-writing is better than my Korean. When I presented my altered business card to Takahiro Umehara I saw a look of understanding instead of one of confusion.

366: My name is Giles Edwards and I am sitting down with Takahiro Umehara, and his translator Yoko, for some questions about the movie screening yesterday, The Moon in the Hidden Woods. Thank you very much. I was curious as to how a Japanese director got involved with a South Korean animation studio.

TU: First of all, I want to state that I am incredibly honored to have gotten the position of director for a South Korean production. I’ve been in Korea for almost eighteen years. And while I’m not representing the whole animation industry in South Korea, I wanted to return the favor that I’ve received in regards to my experiences in Korean film. So I’m hoping that this project will show my gratitude to the Korean people I’ve been working with.

366: I looked a bit at your earlier career, and you’ve been credited as “Art Director” on IMDb for your previous projects. This looks like it’s your first job as director. I was wondering how you made that jump and what interesting you in this particular project.

TU: I feel I am very good when it comes to drawing, so I was always interested in drawing and designing. I’ve generally wanted to be the “hands” of storytellers, but there was some good timing in that someone with whom I’d been working offered me the chance to be a director. I had thought that some day I would want to be in charge of direction, so I jumped on this chance. It was also a great chance to create a real Korean film; before that I’d always been working with Korean people for Japanese productions. This time I wanted to make an animated story based on Korean culture.

366: In regards to the film in particular, there is a whole lot of story—a lot of narrative—fit into this hour-and-a-half-long movie. I was curious as to what that was based on, and if you might explore this world again in the future.

TU: First, I want to see the reaction of screening in Korea, and then perhaps think about exploring more of this world in the future. I believe, however, that the kind of themes found in the movie are universal, and can be found in almost any country’s cultural background, especially as this focuses on the music, songs, and dance.

366: That leads nicely to my next question. The music in the feature—could you talk about your focus on the drums and drumming found in the picture?

TU: I was quite impressed when I first listened to the drums found in Korean music, so I’m glad to know that others have questions about this, as I had. And I look forward to letting my Korean counterparts know about this reaction. Korean music has a special energy, like when something is pressured, you can bounce back. It is quite free, this type of music, like the free jazz in the United States. In particular, the final scene, there’s a really strong beat, and at the end there’s a release.

366: In regards to that final scene, and a preceding scene about mid-way through in the “Hidden Woods”, there are some very astounding Continue reading THE MAN BEHIND “THE MOON”: A CONVERSATION WITH TAKAHIRO UMEHARA

RAW AUDIO: “THE LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER” CREW

After losing his father to the terrible “Lake Michigan Monster,” Captain Seafield assembles a crew of specialists to exact revenge. The result has echoes of Guy Maddin making a monster B-movie. 366 Weird Movies’ Giles Edwards interviews Ryland Brickson Cole Tews (writer / director / “Captain Seafield”); Mike Cheslik (producer / editor / visual effects); Louis R. Schultz (executive producer / sound); and Daniel Long (“Dick Flynn”) about the project.

RAW AUDIO: DIRECTOR MIGUEL LLANSO SHOWS YOU THE WAY

Director discusses his film Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, a Spanish/Ethiopian/Estonian co-production about—among other things—a computer virus named “Stalin” and a kung-fu-fighting president of Ethiopia who dresses like a certain trademarked superhero, with 366 Weird Movies.

RAW AUDIO: “DANIEL ISN’T REAL” DIRECTOR ADAM EGYPT MORTIMER

Giles Edwards sits down with , the director of Daniel Isn’t Real, a 2019 psychological horror about a grown man and his imaginary childhood friend, to discuss stylistic choices and his favorite French New Wave movies. Some controversy arises about what city is actually his hometown. The voice that joins in at the end belongs to Fantasia Fest publicist Kaila Hier.

YI OK-SEOP, KOO KYO-HWAN, & THEIR PET FISH, “MAGGIE”

Review of Maggie (2018)

I introduced myself to Yi Ok-seop (the director) and Koo Kyo-hwan (actor/producer) and handed over 366’s business card. Unfortunately, my handwriting in Korean is just as bad as my handwriting in English.

Yi Ok-seop

366: My name is Giles Edwards and I’m here for 366 Weird Movies. I may have written that incorrectly below…

Yi/Koo: “Dogs”?

366: Oh dear. My hand-writing is pretty bad, I was just looking that up before I got here… Not “dogs”—um, “movies”. But!… I want to ask about the choice of songs for the movie, as they were very clear and dominant from the beginning.

Y/K: When editing, we usual edit as we play music, and look through what kind of music goes well with this scene, this situation, and this line. And when we feel stuck when trying to explain the story in a better way, we look toward the music instead of hanging on to the problem we have in the story. So we look through music and try to find the solution by looking. We felt really empowered by putting the music and the scene together, because when they go really well together, it feels much more synergistic than when we tried to solve this problem as written, or when we couldn’t solve the problem at all, so it was a hint as well as a solution for us.

366: Last night, you both spoke about the nature of the catfish and the prediction of earthquakes. I was wondering if you might be able to repeat that again for this interview.

Y/K: The nature of “Maggie”, the catfish, is that they can sense, predict when there will be an earthquake in the next three or four days—it could be longer, it could be shorter—it’s not precise, but it can sense it and predict it. We thought the character of the catfish was like, when you were at school, in a classroom, and there are so many different people, but there is one group of people who are not really talking much, not really involved in any groups, or socializing with others, so you might think they don’t know anything, but at the same time they’re witnessing everything going on in the class-room, they know everything, every little story that’s going back and forth with other people. So we thought the character of Maggie, the character of those people on the streets in daily life that we think know nothing are kind of similar.

Also, the look of Maggie, there was this little… beard that would kind of make him look wiser in appearance. So the reason we decided to have a catfish was that we probably need little elements like Maggie, like a catfish in our everyday lives, where it just comforts us by just looking at it. And even if it’s not going to protect us in a precise way, it will let us know when things go wrong. It’s also a question about whether to “believe” or not—something might happen tomorrow, it might happen three days later, or a week later, but it is still there. Continue reading YI OK-SEOP, KOO KYO-HWAN, & THEIR PET FISH, “MAGGIE”