From Iceland — Robert Douglas and the Sugarcube effect

Robert Douglas and the Sugarcube effect

Robert Douglas and the Sugarcube effect

Published October 8, 2004

Maður Eins Og Ég dealt with the relationship between an Icelandic man and a Chinese woman. What led you to do a film about an interracial couple?
“I thought it was about time that we made a movie about ‘the other Icelanders’; people who are not of Icelandic origin but nonetheless live here. There’s never been a movie on this subject. Still, this movie was done from his point of view; there still needs to be a movie from the point of view of the immigrant.”
So did you consider doing Maður Eins Og Ég from the point of view the Chinese woman?
“I didn’t know which point of view to use. I actually ended up disappointed with the end result, in that I might have wanted more of her point of view, but it ended up being mostly his.”
I imagine you got quite a reaction from other Icelanders about this movie.
“I got mostly a good reaction to the film, although some people were disappointed because they were expecting another Íslenski Draumurinn. People also seemed to like it because it dealt with this subject and also because there haven’t been any Icelandic romantic comedies. The thing about Maður is, it doesn’t have any Icelandic characters who are likeable. They’re all, well, not necessarily racist but just ignorant. That’s also maybe why it was hard for some Icelanders to watch.”
So, a documentary set in a mall was the next step then?
“It’s just basically about a few people who work in a mall, getting the mall ready for Christmas. It follows six or seven people around and we get to know them and their dreams.”
I understand you’ve been having a hard time getting this movie shown.
“It has been difficult. We’re in discussion with the government television station and they want to buy it. It’s done pretty well abroad and has created a kind of ‘Sugarcube effect’ – when Icelandic art does well overseas it becomes more readily accepted in Iceland. Without that, they just have this attitude of, ‘If an Icelander made it then it can’t be interesting.’”
Do you have any other feature films in the making?
“Yes, I’m shooting a film now about a gay football team. I don’t think there’ll be too much backlash to that here. I mean, the Gay Pride festival sees a bigger turnout than the 17th of June festivities. Everyone’s been really supportive, from the KR football team to drag queens.”
Small Mall is scheduled to appear on RÚV television sometime after New Year’s Eve.

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