Berlinale 2017 Profile: Katja Gauriloff (Kaisa’s Enchanted Forest)

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In 1935, Swiss writer Robert Crottet, suffering from tuberculosis, began having vivid and powerful dreams of bright-eyed creatures that called to him from the enchanted northern forests of Finland.

He is welcomed by the Skolt Sámi – and is mesmerized by the richness of their oral traditions, especially the unique storytelling gift of the lively matriarch Kaisa Gauriloff. After being acknowledged by the forest, he is permitted to record the stories and legends as told by Kaisa. These hypnotizing tales are illustrated with delightful storybook-style animation that intertwine with Robert’s biographical impressions as well as grim historical events around them.

Here, Kaisa’s great-granddaughter Katja Gauriloff directs this film as a portrayal of Robert’s poetic admiration of Kaisa and her enchanted world.

‘Kaisa’s Enchanted Forest’ (Kuun metsän Kaisa) will screen at Berlinale 2017 on Friday and Saturday, 10/11 February. Here, we present Katja Gauriloff’s own introduction to her film.

Find all information & tickets for ‘Kaisa’s Enchanted Forest’ at Berlinale 2017  HERE

What was the first aspect of ‘Ghost Hunting’ that occurred to you during the production phase? Was it a certain character, theme, scene, or something else entirely?
It was definitely my great grandmother Kaisa. I always knew she was a very special person and I have been thinking how I can make a film about her for over a decade. Of course, I also wanted to tell a story about what happened to our culture but I really needed to “grow” as a filmmaker before I could work with such a big theme.

Describe the visual strategy behind the film? How did your approach to the film’s photography develop over its production? Was there ever a moment of significant adjustment from your original vision?
Year 2012 I found out there was film material about my great grandmom, but I didn’t know where it was located. I started to look for it but I didn’t find any of that in Finnish archives. I got a hint that there could be someone in Spain who might know. I sent a postcard to an address I got. Some time went by and we received a phone call. It was Enrique Méndez, the life partner of Robert Crottet. He invited me to Barcelona to his home. I travelled there in 2013, he gave me all the film material and hundreds of photos, original texts and all that was left from Crottet. Then I knew I had a film in my hands. The film is based on this material with a lot of archive films. Also, I wanted to use one of my great grandmom’s legend and wanted to make some animation of it.

With the film hitting Berlinale, describe how you plan to further expand its accessibility to wide audiences?
Berlinale is one of the biggest festivals so I’m sure it makes possible to have more attention for the film. Also, I hope we will get more festivals interested in the film and international distribution possible.

Can you talk a little about the design aspects of the film’s branding…for example, choice of font, color, and the development of its poster. How do you view the branding strategy of the film?
For the title of the film, I wanted to have a rugged look, like an old archive material or like an old book from the 40’s. I got my inspiration from old silent movies, b&w photography, old animation films, and printed posters and books of course. I always want to work with a Danish designer with fonts and poster. They have done excellent work.

Finally, if you could describe your film in one word, what would it be?
Enchanting

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