Note: The following interview may contain slight spoilers for Koko-di, Koko-da.
Johannes Nyholm 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?
366 Weird Movies’ Gregory J. Smalley 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