Norwegian auteur Kristoffer Borgli confronts his past

Watch acclaimed filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli recall Knausgård and blowjobs at his home on the north Atlantic coast

Kicking off the Dazed Video birthday week is Wherever I Look, I See Myself by the talented Norwegian filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli. Known for his weird and wonderful film Whateverest, Borgli has created a name for himself with his engaging and naturally immersive films, narratives and characters that sit right in between reality and fiction. For Dazed, he went on a self-referential trip to a summer house in the Norwegian countryside, revealing a set of truths in a fictional world as he confronts a writer's block and ghosts of the past. Read on in our interview with Kristoffer below.

Dazed Digital: This is not the first autobiographical film you make, but Wherever I Look I See Myself does seem to expose more of you than any film you’ve made so far. Was there ever a moment during the making of, when you found it difficult to tell a more personal story?

Kristoffer Borgli: An autobiography wouldn’t change names or facts I think, I wouldn’t say that any work I’ve done is autobiographical, and even though the masking is less present in this one, it’s still fiction. There are a lot of facts overlapping my life and Oscar’s life, but I’m very interested in blurring the boundary between life and fiction though, creating a sort of negative space illustration, where you see the story as just a story, but suddenly you see another dimension somewhere in the middle. I think the first time I experienced this was reading Joe Matt’s Peep Show when I was younger - how the characters would read the previous issues of Peep Show in the story, and how Matt's real life would be affected by the comics. The character, Oscar, is affirming the hopeless limits of fiction, but the film itself is a success for Oscar in the story because it’s not fiction, it’s 100% real, and to me, as it is fiction, it's a kind of affirmation that fiction is even necessary.  

You’ve previously said you’d like all your films to be part of the same universe, and that all of them should be connected. What do you think characterises that universe, and what is it about this universe that makes you want to re-enter it over and over again?

Kristoffer Borgli: I might have said something like that, and it’s the reasons why I shouldn’t allow myself to be interviewed.  

Who and what have inspired you to make this film?

Kristoffer Borgli: The fact that you asked me to make something is the starting point - there was no initial inspiration that drew me to write, it was trying to solve a problem. I think that’s a very interesting starting point, you, as the commissioner, started this narrative. The fact of a short deadline, the presence of this being a job is what made it self referential, because I couldn’t get my mind out of the fact that it was a job. Thus the title. 

You live and work in Oslo - what is the film industry currently like there, and who are the talents we should be looking out for?

Kristoffer Borgli: The film industry is under scrutiny by the right wing government - it’s almost impossible to make feature length work without support of the government, and the funds are being limited. There is also a focus on making films that play on American models, films that they know will sell tickets, films that are "products" targeted for a certain audience, often kids. It’s kind of strange, since we get a lot of these sugary products from America, we should make our anti-dote on beets and carrots, making films that says something unique and has a certain intellectual level, not American films where the actors happen to speak Norwegian. (There is a lot of great American cinema, don’t get me wrong, I’m talking about the mainstream studio films). But there are a few people who are lucky enough to get funded; Joachim Trier being the best example of great Norwegian cinema.  

What are you up to next?

Kristoffer Borgli: I have been lucky enough to get a government funding for writing on two different features. I’m writing, but it’s uncertain if I will be making anything in the near future. I’ll keep myself busy though.