Interview with producer Mario Adamson
Mario Adamson is a producer at Stockholm-based Sisyfos Film. He is soon off to Cannes with two films: How to save a Dead Friend and co-production Butterfly Vision. We had the opportunity to chat with Mario – about Cannes, about working across borders, and how his work has been affected by the war in Ukraine.
How to save a Dead Friend is the first feature-length documentary by Russian director Marusya Syroechkovskaya and it’s screening in the parallel section ACID. Can you tell us more about the film?
It’s about young people in Russia who can see no way out. And generally, how people who can see no meaningful future make all kinds of destructive choices. Fundamentally it’s a love story about Kimi and director Marusya and their relationship – with each other, and also with drugs and mental illness. Marusya finds a way out of it, while Kimi goes from being the strong one to losing his grip. The film is set in Russia, but I think many people will be able to identify with it anyway, as many of us go through tough times at some point. I also think a lot of young people who struggle to enter Swedish society could end up in the same downward spiral.
Another thing that attracted me to the project was Marusya as a director, her ability to capture the presence in their relationship. For me, that was the key to our involvement in the project.
How to Save a Dead Friend © Marusya Syroechkovskaya
You are also the co-producer of the drama Butterfly Vision by Ukrainian director Maksym Nakonechnyi, screening in Un Certain Regard. What can you tell us about it?
It’s the story of a female military drone pilot, who is released after being held captive by Russian separatists for three months. It’s about her attempt to reintegrate into Ukrainian civil society, which in the film reflects both the highly nationalist side of Ukrainian society at the time, and the view of general society on the people who fought to hold Donbas. During her captivity she was also raped and is carrying someone’s child, which brings everything to a head. She tries to re-adapt but feels she is not accepted, so she decides to return to the war, where she has freedom, and it’s the only thing she can deal with. The film is a very clear comment on current events in Ukraine.
Butterfly Vision © Sisyfos
How did you get involved in the project?
I was at Eurodocs in 2019 with The Scars of Ali Boulala, and during that workshop I met a bunch of great people from different European countries. We liked each other’s projects and have stayed in touch, and have even collaborated on a few films. Maksym was there as a producer, as were the Czech and Croatian co-producers. We’ve always said we’ll help each other out, and they contacted me with Butterfly Vision. I liked the script and it was a group of people I wanted to work with, and as a company we also want more fiction projects.
Maksym is one of the founders of Tabor, a production company in Kyiv. It’s like a film collective where they all produce and direct each other’s stuff. They process these things together in a tight-knit, intuitive way. I see this film as a result of that process, of everything they’ve been through.
What have your colleagues in Ukraine done since war broke out? Are they still there or have they fled?
It varies, but most have stayed behind. Some have gone west for practical reasons, but the main core of the film collective has stayed in Kyiv. They’ve also travelled around and documented what the Russian forces are doing and what’s going on. They have an extensive infrastructure of filmmakers who know what they’re doing, so we’ve tried to support them and get materials and equipment to them so they can do their work in Ukraine. They’ve mainly been in Kyiv and Odessa, but they’ve also tried to record events in other parts of the country. I haven’t seen the material myself yet, but we’re going to talk more about what we can do with it while we’re here in Cannes.
What does exposure in Cannes mean for the film?
It’s hugely important. This film is very topical, and above all it means a lot for the film team, it’s a kind of recognition of what they’re doing.
Have you seen any films recently that have made a strong impression on you?
I watched the French film Gagarine [directors Fanny Liatard & Jérémy Trouilh, 2020], an indie film. It starts out very realistically, but ends up in some kind of sci-fi. It depicts some youths in a soon-to-be demolished suburb, but the main character can’t deal with it and goes into a kind of psychosis, and he stays behind even though they’re going to blast the building. It becomes like a space station for him, and he identifies strongly with the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. They’ve managed to make a beautiful, poetic film with very little means.
Interview: Per Perstrand
Mario Adamson is a producer and the founder of Sisyfos Film, an independent production company based in Stockholm and focusing on documentaries by Swedish and international directors. He also has long experience as a sound editor, sound technician and composer. He often collaborates with Scottish producer Ruth Reid. Sisyfos’ productions include Scheme Birds by Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin which won the awards for Best Documentary Feature Film and New Documentary Director at the Tribeca Film Festival, The Scars of Ali Boulala by Max Eriksson which also screened in Tribeca, and Merry Christmas, Yiwu by Mladen Kovacevic.
Published 16 May 2022