Sunday, April 28, 2013

TFF Last Day: In ‘Northwest,’ Crime Is Chosen Way

A mother (Lene Maria Christensen) turns a blind eye on her son's (Gustav Dyekjær Giese) misdeeds in "Northwest." Photo provided by Tribeca Film Festival.

MICHAEL Noer found the leads in his latest film, “Northwest,” through Facebook.

“I got this call from this woman who said I have two sons who might be right for the roles.”

The young documentarian, who continues his foray into the genre of feature-length crime films following his well-received prison drama, “R,” was looking for brothers around 17 and 18 who were one year apart in age.

“These two guys came in,” he explained yesterday after the third screening of the film at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, “and they were arguing and pushing each other. One didn’t have directions and the other had a hangover. We just watched them, and then they said ‘so, what do you want us to do’? I told them that had done it; I want you in the film.” (See video below).

The northwest of the title is a crime-ridden neighborhood of Copenhagen where brothers Casper and Andy, played by Gustav Dyekjær Giese and Oscar Dyekjær Gies, respectively, live. The older Casper undertakes pretty crime to support his closeknit family. That includes a mother and little sister. One day, bigger fish come calling, and Casper will eventually bring the heretofore sheltered Andy into the scheme.

It’s now ON! as the haunting “Northwest” chronicles their reception into the bosom of the Copenhagen crime underworld. The film has its last screening this evening at 2013 TFF.

“Northwest” does not have a Hollywood story ending. MN is keepin’ it real. “I wanted to present the film from the point of the main characters; they are not thinking about their feelings” or being plagued by crises of conscience around issues of right and wrong. In other words, it is what it is.

“Northwest” is based on the story of real-life siblings. In fact, some of the scenes were shot in their apartment where the director and stars spent some nights. “That little sister’s bed, that’s where I slept,” MN gleefully explained about several scene from the film.

Not only are the Giese brothers amateur actors, much of the “Northwest” cast is, too. Some are real-life gangsters, hoods and residents. The brothers on whose exploits “Northwest” is inspired were essentially film consultants. Working with amateurs can be tricky, and the “Northwest” production was no exception. Often enough, MN just went with their flow, a savvy move because this in part accounts for a certain authenticity in “Northwest.” It lends the film a cinéma vérité quality.

“This is their life. The film is shot in the neighborhood where they live. They are not thinking that I am going to be in a picture,” he stressed.

MN, who clearly admires his subjects and has about him the air of the geek who gets to hang out with the cool kids, saw in his cast acting techniques that came naturally. He recalls disclosing to one of the girls playing a prostitute that one particular day was her last day of shooting. Later in a scene, her line was to ask someone not to leave. “It was perfect. She was also asking me not to leave her. I liked the way that they brought what was happening in their lives into the film.

In “Northwest,” the viewer is privy to the decisions and circumstances that inform choices that can lead to the cemetery or to prison cells like the ones in “R.” There is, too, the added burden of knowing that many of these events are all-too real.

Uneasy partners in crime in "Northwest."

“This is the only life these guys know,” MN asserted about the events depicted in "Northwest." “It’s not like they were good and when they were 8 they turned bad. They were already bad. They love films like “The Godfather” and “Scarface.” They idolize gangsters; they idolize Tony Montana.”

“Northwest” has its final screening this evening at 6. Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule. Rx.

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