2005 . 6 minutes 15 seconds . 16mm
Available on the DVD "Intolerable Questions" at amazon.com
Available for festival and gallery rental through the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
When the rain stops in Norway, everyone comes out to greet the sun. The parks are full – the markets are crowded – but you are still very much alone. Why do you move past others as if they don’t exist? Why protect the world from your feelings, your thoughts, your true power? Kuboå reveals the meditations of a sensitive outsider - the life and times of an ordinary Norwegian ghost.
Sandra Kelberlau – Woman
Camilla Hole – Voice
Douglas Bost - Johannes
David Baeumler - Writer, Director, Camera, Editor
Chris O’Neil - Music
Filmed on location in Bergen, Norway, Boston, Massachusetts and Buffalo, NY
FESTIVAL SCREENINGS (2006 unless noted)
35th International Film Fest Rotterdam – Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Los Angeles Film Festival – Los Angeles, California
Mill Valley Film Festival – Mill Valley California
35th Festival Du Nouveau Cinema Montreal
Humboldt International Short Film Festival – Arcata, California
Filmstock – Luton, UK
Cucalorus – Wilmington, North Carolina
Revelation Film Festival - Perth Australia
Dubrovnik Film Festival - Dubrovnik, Croatia
Woods Hole Film Festival - Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Buffalo Niagara Film Festival - Buffalo, New York(Winner Best Short 2007)
Echo Park Film Center - Los Angeles, California
Film Threat - January 13, 2006 - David Finkelstein
(Review at FilmThreat.com)
"Kuboå" is a film prose poem about a young Norwegian woman, and her
increasingly isolated and unreal state of consciousness. Her voice over
narrative, which runs through the film accompanied by Chris O'Neil's effectively
spacey music, tells of her daily life: speaking to a stranger in the park, painting
her house, working at her job as an art restorer. But these daily details all
contain strange, disorientingly surrealist details: she speaks to a strange man in
the park as if she already knows all about his life, and he replies in kind. She
changes the color of her house "to match her shoes." The writing is full of poetic
touches: "The seven mountains have closed their eyes."
We see the woman wandering around her small Norwegian city in late summer,
taking pleasure in simple things such as touching the grass or watching the
birds and the people. But, at odd moments throughout the film, she becomes
transparent like a ghost, or disappears altogether. (Sometimes it is the things
she watches, such as the birds, which fade out.) When she talks with the
strange man in the park, in her narrative she claims that it is the man who
disappears (evidently the encounter is a part of her rich fantasy life), but, on the
screen, it is she who fades out and becomes unreal. Likewise, at the end of the
film, she muses that "it is strange that I miss the people" but it is again she who
is disappearing rather than the others.
This visual leitmotif of the woman fading out is extremely effective in creating an
overall mood of a tenuous, depressed existence, of a world constantly being
derealized. It is as if the woman is sinking into a depression or a kind of mental
illness which creates a wall of noise around her, so that the real world appears
as if seen through water or thick glass; hard to see and hard to hear but still
attractive, just not fully real.
Baeumler's inspiration for the film came partly from time he spent living in
Norway and partly from novelist Knut Hamsun. The title comes from Hamsun's
"Hunger," but it is a made up word, referring in the novel to an inexpressible
inner state. Baeumler's writing has the simple clear style of a surrealist prose
poem, filled with details which are just slightly off-kilter, but which hint at vast
subterranean realms of unknowable strangeness. The woman remarks of her
job as an art restorer: "Every one who works protects the world from their true
power." This suggests the rage and frustration which she is keeping under
wraps, contributing to her sense of increasing disconnectedness.
Sandra Kelberlau, as the woman, has an apologetic smile, with an extremely
unsettling undertone of mental disassociation, which is what gives the film its
power for me. Towards the film's end, she tells about a game that she plays with
herself in which she imagines having a husband who is always disappearing
around the corner in her house, and how she uses this idea to manipulate her
sense of the passage of time. These details give a vivid sense of her inner life.
The film ends with images of ships leaving the harbor, rain returning, and a
huge bonfire near the waterfront, a traditional way of marking summer's end.
This powerful ending gives the feeling that she is sinking further and further into
her isolated mental state. There is also a cyclic feeling, as if arctic day is turning
into arctic night.
Through his beautiful photography, artful editing, and the use of expressive
visual and verbal metaphors, Baeumler has created a haunting film portrait of a
woman lost in a Nordic fog.”
REVELATION FILM FESTIVAL 2006:
"Eloquently shot and beautifully told...hauntingly beautiful and enigmatic...real visual poetry and a gentleness you can almost taste."
HI MOM! FILM FESTIVAL 2006 - Kuboå Interview - By Sarah Jorda
HM!: Kuboa seems to flow like a slow river, meandering slowly, making its points and showing beautiful imagery along the way. Do you have it all planned out before you shoot? do you storyboard? how much is
DB: Thanks, I’m glad you appreciated the pace. Up to now, most of my films have been very fast – lots of cuts, lots of talking - so with Kuboå I really wanted to see if I could slow things down and still make an interesting film. As for how much planning I do, I was lucky enough to be in Bergen, Norway for a couple months, so whenever I walked around I’d jot down an idea for a shot. Happenstance definitely plays a role – like the fire shot at the end – but I generally have an idea of what I’d like to shoot before I drag all the gear around.
HM!: Can you tell me a little about the music and its composer...did you fit the music to the images or was it ready-made?
DB: Chris O’Neil is a great friend of mine and an amazingly talented musician – one of those guys who can play anything with strings as well as clunk around with pieces of metal and make it all sound fantastic. He’s also a filmmaker and one of those After Effects gurus that you find levitating in boutique post production houses. Anyway, I showed him a rough cut of Kuboå and played him this Breeders song that I thought had the right feel and in one week he composed this ambient, moody music that just floored me. There’s banjo and bizarre drums and who knows all what. It makes all the difference in setting the mood for the film.
HM!: How is Kuboa similar/different from your previous films?
DB: Apart from being a lot slower paced, Kuboå also tries to evoke more emotion than my other shorts. I usually start off with some kind of philosophical premise and then do arguments and counter arguments – kind of heady stuff. This film was more like an attempt at poetry. How could I use fewer words to get at the heart of things? It was definitely an experiment for me – trying to run counter to my hyper instincts. But on the surface it shares a lot with my previous work: it’s all voice over narration, shot pretty quick and dirty with a wind up 16mm Bolex and, of course, my wife Sandy was nice enough to participate again.
HM!: I see you're a local, but have you lived abroad? How has traveling influenced your films?
DB: Well, I’ve moved so much I don’t know if I qualify as local anywhere anymore. I participated in a screening in May where they called me a “Boston Filmmaker” and I’ve only lived up here about a year. But traveling definitely influences my films. I pretty much only film when I’m traveling, in fact. You really spend time noticing things when you travel, and you’re head is in a different space – it’s really conducive to filmmaking. Right now I’m hoping to get some of that travel sensibility here at home as I start shooting a couple short projects around Boston.
HM!: The film is fiction, but there it is also about a place and about a frame of mind...in that sense it's a document of Bergen, a document of feelings of a place...how did you go about making this film?
DB: You’ve got it exactly. One of the reasons to make personal films is to document a place you lived and capture the way you felt while you were there – like a moving picture album. I can show Kuboå to people I know and say, this is how it was for us in Bergen. Also, my wife is a paintings conservator, so I thought it would be nice to show her at work. On an emotional level, Bergen did feel like a beautiful but isolating place. I didn’t really connect with anyone – just wandered around the city. At the time I was reading a lot of Norwegian author Knut Hamsun (which is where the term “Kuboå” comes from) and that served to increase the melancholy mood. Norway really reminded me of my years in Northern California. Unfortunately, those weren’t the greatest years – so I guess everything conspired to make me feel a bit introspective. The written monologue for the film came really fast – within the first week or so of being there. Then it was just a matter of shooting and finding a Norwegian woman to read the piece. It was just a bit of luck to have met Camilla Hole who I think does a wonderful job with the voice over.
HM!: What are you listening to?
DB: In terms of music, I’m stuck listening to Guided By Voices – I just can’t stop listening to their stuff. I’ve become pretty obsessive about them. It seems like all my favorite bands are recently defunct: The Delgados, Luna – please, please, please tell Superchunk to stay together. They’re my only hope left.
HM!: Thanks for your time! I really enjoyed your film.