GÖTEBORG, Sweden — It should be said that this post is a personal one. That’s because Josefine Camitz is a deeply sensitive young filmmaker whose work is focused solely and seriously on the personal, in all its dimensions.
Last month, Camitz’s third short film premiered at one of the most respected film festivals in Scandinavia, the 36th annual Göteborg International Film Festival. Vacant (2013) is the story of two young lovers in Greece moving in different directions: Myrto is sick and shuts her lover, Spyros, out. It is a story about love and longing at the end of the road — the moment of crisis in which a personal choice is made and the consequences that follow are immediate yet complex.
In her work, Camitz explores feelings visually, using a language composed as if the moving image were a fabric of pictures textured by unadulterated emotion and contextualized by the sound of space. In Vacant, an original score by Kristian Holmgren tingles, and the work of sound editors Lars Jameson and Patrik Strömdahl further complicates the picture. (Strömdahl worked on the original 2008 Swedish production of the film Let the Right One In, impeccably directed by Thomas Alfredson.)
Vacant is an abstract image composition of sorts, as well as an evocative taster of what Camitz will be working on next: her first feature film, also set in Athens, a place she still calls home while developing projects in Stockholm. Those include the SweGre exchange, which is designed to explore the possibilities of bicultural collaboration and which Camitz manages with three Stockholm-based cultural agencies — Film Stockholm (Stockholm County Council), The Swedish Arts Grants Committee, and the Greek embassy in Sweden.
What Camitz brings to her films is warmth laced with a jagged and simple edge that could cut through ice. Camitz manages to reclaim love as a genre to be explored cerebrally, emotionally, and visually, as an abstract and universal notion that many a philosopher has called a form that can never be truly described.
Camitz’s second short, “Vera’s Will” (2011), premiered at the Psarokokalo Short Film Festival in Athens in 2012 and won the audience award, followed by awards at the Vårrullen Short Film Festival in Stockholm later the same year. The wins were well deserved. “Vera’s Will” tells the story of Camitz’s ailing grandmother Vera, released from hospital before her ninetieth birthday, as she and her husband, P.O, attempt to settle into a state of marital normality given the constraints of their aging bodies. The language is simple, and the story somehow profound, exploring mortality, devotion, and life; like Michael Haneke’s Amour told in fifteen minutes and from a different, more luminous angle.
That “Vera’s Will” premiered in Athens was a perfect moment for a filmmaker who describes her work as “dealing with the genre of drama. Embracing its Greek origin.” This drama is guided quite simply by the immediate experience of living between the extremes of human existence, from life and death to youth and age, and how that really feels.
Vacant premiered at the Göteborg International Film Festival (Göteborg, Sweden) on January 25.