16th of June: Morning discussion with Pernilla August

Pernilla August

In the Sunday morning discussion, Swedish actor-director Pernilla August told the audience lively stories about her long career in film and theatre.

August grew up in Södermalm, Stockholm where she lived with her mother after her parents divorced when Pernilla was two-years-old. August’s photographer father influenced her relationship with camera from early on.

“I can see in my eyes that I’m very aware of that I’m looking through the lens into him.”

As a child and later a teenager, August made use of the tricks of theatre in school. She didn’t consider it acting but merely her way of being. Already at the age of eight she discovered how to create a contact with the audience. August says that intuition is her most important tool in working. At the age of 15 she ended up acting in a commercial by Roy Andersson through a friend’s father. Afterwards Andersson asked August to play a small role in his movie, Giliap (1972). It was at that time when August really started to get excited about filmmaking.

“I want to be with all these people on the other side of the camera. They seem to have so much fun over there. I didn’t think I want to be an actor, more I wanted to be a part of crew.”

She was still in the middle of her theatre studies when she got offered a role in Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1985). It caused some problems as it was forbidden to act in movies during her studies. August’s situation was solved by organizing a voting with the students and the staff, which, she says was horrible. She describes Bergman as a brilliant writer and a director with a personal touch who was mostly whispering instructions. August ended up in George Lucas’s Star Wars movies after getting to know the producer Rick McCallum in the filming of the tv show The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. In the filming of The Phantom Menace (1999) August was at first nervous about her English and accent but Lucas assured her she shouldn’t worry as her character is from a Swedish galaxy.

Later on, as a director August has been able to live her dream of being behind the camera. For her the most important thing as a filmmaker is to create a sensation that what is being filmed is realistic because it’s the only way to make a contact with the audience.

To a desert island Agustin would take John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence (1974).

Photo: Juho Liukkonen