EIFF 2012: Maja Borg on Future My Love
"Everyone has been incredibly honest. That’s the key, not just to documentary, but to any kind of filmmaking."
So emerged Maja Borg’s film of future and economy, with honesty clasped to its core. Surely reason enough to applaud. But the Swedish filmmaker has also sacrificed her own experiences with love on truth’s insatiable altar to further illuminate matters. And illumination is exactly what has been achieved with Future My Love. A world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival brings the young woman who used to attend Edinburgh College of Art and work in the box office of the Cameo full circle. As Borg opens the door to alternative systems of thought, I gladly stumbles out of the wild Edinburgh downpour and over the threshold, in the hope she’ll tell us more…
Borg explains when Future My Love started in 2007, before the economy’s nosedive, it was a straight documentary. Then, as recession hit, people had to become more informed about such matters. A silver lining was that the film could evolve beyond "just giving facts." But one simple question consistently struck her. "We can change. We have had theories and ideas on how to change since the 1930s, so the greater question is, why don’t we change?"
If there’s any key player in Future My Love’s documentary strand, it’s the indomitable Jacque Fresco. Borg meets with the futurist, philosopher, designer, architect and social thinker in Florida. There, they discuss alternative futures and the potential for human subsistence without the wants created by a monetary system. Borg explains: "[Jacque] is not diplomatic at all. He provokes everyone with what he is saying – including me – but he’s incredibly honest." It’s clear that mutual respect has been fundamental to their working relationship. "He’s 97, he’s worked with this for 70 years, so the first time you meet him, you sit down and listen, and you try to understand."
But why choose to bring her personal love story into a documentary about the monetary system and its alternatives? "I see [those] things as very related," Borg says. "This is when I started to think of economy as a relationship, because it’s something that’s so abstract and so removed from people when we talk about it. But what if we talk about it as a relationship? Because everyone has relationships… but we don’t necessarily question the relationship structure we are given."
Whch brings us to what Borg gave of herself. One strand of Future My Love focuses on the character of NEM, an embodiment of Borg’s former relationships played by Italian actress Nadya Cazan. But this is not about any one person. "It’s about my love story," explains Borg "and my love story, as it does for most people, goes through several people."
But isn’t revisiting love damaging? "It was emotionally very, very difficult. I copied all the material I had from the film onto one drive, and I took all my diaries, and went to a very remote town in the mountains in Spain, and I was basically stuck there with material for three months. So that was intense and solitary." So what was the biggest challenge for her? "It is hard to open your eyes and look at the things that are wrong in society and look deep into yourself," is the reply.
A contrast of monochrome and colour, Super 8 film and HD digital keeps Future My Love’s vision fresh, but why were such choices made? Again, the relationship between head and heart has enriched the film’s aesthetic. "I love digital, but it always comes with a very logical head process. If you work with an organic medium, it looks a little bit like how it wants to look." As for any directorial or artistic influence, Borg sees more value in experience, and her father’s advice comes to mind. "My dad has a huge love for gardening. He says the best thing you can do is give yourself rich compost. Meet a lot of people, eat a lot of different food from the world, fall in love, do all these things, and through life create a compost in which to make your films."
So does the future hold resolution for the questions asked in Future My Love? "The whole aim with the film is to get people asking the 'why?' questions or the 'why not?' questions, because there are loads of different solutions." One of the questions it seemed pertinent to ask was what might happen to culture’s future if a new world economy emerged? "We still do pottery even though we can go to IKEA and get a plastic bucket," Borg says. For now, it seems, we can keep it. Which, with young filmmakers like Maja Borg around, can only be a good thing.