After the success of Breathing, her haunting collaboration with composer Michael Karlsson, film-maker Anna Österlund has returned with her latest short, Clara - a beautiful and impressionistic film examining the conflicting pressures of motherhood.
‘I made the film after hearing designer and musician Jenny Grettve‘s music and seeing her collection which drew inspiration from the 19th century composer Clara Schumann.
‘Clara was a mother of 7 children, and yet, she was considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era.
‘In the eyes of society, being a performer and the main breadwinner for her family, Clara was in direct conflict with the expected role as a wife and mother. Some of the hardships she must have gone through in combining the two, I also see in my friend Jenny’s life. She’s had 3 kids within 3 years, while at the same time she started her own fashion brand.
‘I see the joy, the love and the struggle, the wish to drop everything, yet embracing it, and the fantastic creativity that comes out of being under such a pressure.
‘So I asked her to just act herself in her own collection and I put her in contrasting situations involving her, her kids, music and creativity, and let the camera roll.
‘I worked with symbols from classic paintings such as the apple symbolising temptaition, and other symbols showing struggle, hard work, restlesness and love. I’m leaving it up to the viewers to make their own interpretations, but everything is there for a reason.’
Prior to film-making, Anna set-up her own highly successful design company Ravishing Mad in 2007, which she described as a contrast of things she loves: ‘being outrageous and yet stunning, clean but not strict, dirty and oh so powerful.’
Anna was born and raised just outside Stockholm. She had a rather lonely childhood, and was often bullied by other kids. To escape Anna spent much of her time alone in her room drawing and sewing, while listening to music. It was the kind of existence that focussed her talents and ambitions.
Once Ravishing Mad was a success, Anna wanted to find new outlets for her cretaivity. ‘I bought a camera and got back into filming, photographing and writing, collaborating with musicians and dancers along with my work in fashion. Now I’m enjoying myself like I never thought possible and my biggest joy is the mix of doing everything.
Anna describes Clara as a mix of music video, fashion video and short film. ‘Call it whatever you like, but it’s not very typical of the first two. What I’m interested in is awakening emotions and adding an expression that is different to what you see every day.
‘There is an indie feel to most of my work and I have a weakness for the unpolished. I grew up during the 80’s and 90’s and remember how I as a child and teen I recorded films on top of each other until they were completely worn out. I’m so in love with the faults and beauty in old VHS copies and it’s probably a way for me to romanticise the moments when I saw some of my favorite films for the first time. I think my past is quite visible in my work and I try to be honest and to create my own magic world that I can invite fantastic people into.’
Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Breathing’: A haunting and eerie short film by Michael Karlsson, Anna Österlund and Truls Bråhammar