Interview with award-winning director Jakob Marky as he releases new short film ‘FÖRHÖR’

Jakob Marky grew up in Gothenburg before going to film school in Australia. He has directed many commercials, including for IKEA, music videos and short films – some of which have won prestigious awards. His acclaimed work on commercials led him to receive the accolade of ‘Commercial Director of the Year 2019’ in both Sweden and Norway.

His latest short film, Förhör (translates as interrogation in English), is now nominated at the Gothenburg film festival. Before he heads off to the festival, we had a chat with him to find out more about the making of the film, what other projects he has coming up, and his recommendations for his hometown of Gothenburg.

Let’s start with your short film Förhör – tell us what you can about the short and how the concept came about.

The film is based on a fantastic book, “Förhör” by Magnus Dahlström that came out in the spring of 2020. It totally floored me. It’s not a crime book, even though it is set inside a police department. Its a book about the surrounding bureaucracy that comes with police work and the humans you encounter. There are not murders or solutions being offered, rather its the daily grind, and that was very fascinating.

So much of today’s fiction is based around crime. I think that crime is pretty boring, it must be hopeless to be a police officer, filling out forms and speaking to witness all day long. What is the clockwork behind crime, in terms of bureaucracy? I had never read anything like it before, and I could not resist adapting the book to film. 

We love the style used in the film – it reminded us of the old school paranoia thrillers of the 70s and 80s (and most recently used in a series called Homecoming) – was that the concept you wanted?

I am very happy to hear that! I am a big fan of the American new wave of the 1970’s. Pakula, Lumet, Coppola, are the reason I direct, and the film school I return to time and time again. I had an idea that I wanted to make the to combatants faceless. As soon as you see a person, you are seduced.

You might love the eyes or there is a smile that knocks you of your feet. So I wanted to keep a sort of bureaucratic anonymity to the accuser and the accursed so that we would not be biased by their appearance. This is the first time I collaborate with Josephine Owe, amazing Director of Photography, and I was very adamant about this.

Once we had agreed on the photographic premise, everything was pretty straight forward. It was a bit nerve-racking to have two such amazing actors in Charlotte Wandt and Joel Spira, and never show their faces, but I think it captured a sense of paranoia that I wanted. 

How long did the film take for you to make given all the challenges we currently face?

Long story short, this is my 3rd shortfall script since corona struck. I have collaborated with two fellow directors, to challenge this pause in film making to use the time and write. I started off by writing two scripts that I was very happy with and that received funding but that could not be filmed due to the restrictions (both are set in LA), so my colleagues challenge me to write something that I could shoot within a month time, and for my own money.

So it was much faster and it was very liberating. I also think that this break in life was very good for me. I have been directing commercials nonstop for the last 10 years, crowning it with being named “Best commercial director” in both Sweden and Norway 2019. So I needed something new. 

What projects have you got coming up next – might we expect a feature film one day from you?

This book doesn’t let go of me, so I hope this is not the last chapter from the book. I have also written my first feature script, but that takes place in the Swedish community among actors in LA, so, the timing isn’t the best at the moment. And, I have just received funding for my next short; “Center stage” which I will shoot in April. That is a long answer, but yes, my dream is to shoot a feature.

Tv-series are great and I am a fan, but a feature is the crown jewel. Something with a start and an end. 

You are attending Gothenburg Film Festival where your short has been nominated – what movies from the Nordic region are you looking forward to catching?

I love Magnus von Horn and I am very much looking forward to his ‘Sweat‘. And Ninja always has a way of provoking, so her movie ‘Pleasure‘ is not to be missed. I am also very fond of Norway so Gritt is a film I am looking forward to watch. 

When everything is back to normal where are some of your favourite spots to eat or go out in Gothenburg?

There is a small place, Bar La Luna, that is my absolute favourite place in the world. I am born and raised in Gothenburg but do not live there anymore, but I always go to La luna every time I am there. Also, Jinx food truck and there dish; Thaicos, a mix of Mexican ond thai is the first thing I have stepping of the train. 

Finally what you have been listening to, reading, or watching recently (before you go on Gothenburg Film Festival binge!)?

Call my Agent. I love it. The mix of comedy and drama, the characters. I love it.

Also Förhör, by Magnus Dahlström. It was a huge blunder by the book prize Augustpriset not to nominate the book. It is absolutely amazing.

Also, this is not so new, but Lars Anderssons, “De våra” is amazing. I hope it has been translated into English because it is a great book about Sweden during the war. Sweden has a lot of skeletons in the closet and this is a peak into a very strange time in Swedish history through the eyes of a police man. 

Watch the trailer for Jakob’s Förhör:

Interview by Alex Minnis

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