24. 3. 2014

Exclusive interview with Bård Breien, the director of Detective Downs

Detective Downs is a real hero!

Czech viewers got acquainted with Norwegian director Bård Breien seven years ago thanks to his successful feature debut, The Art of Negative Thinking. Breien now returns with a black comedy variation of film noir. Detektiv Down was shot in Prague and Febiofest will present it in Czech premiere. The film is being prepared for cinema distribution after the festival.

How did you come up with such an original story of a detective with Down syndrome?

This idea came to life very spontaneously when I found out about a preparation of six films about a very boring fictional Norwegian detective, the most conservative thing you can imagine. And I told to my friend, with whom I was sitting in a pub at that time: If I ever make a story of a private eye, he will have Down syndrome. At first, we just laughed at that idea, but then I realized what a great film potential it has. It was a lucky hit.

Do you, as a viewer, like old films with such hard detectives as Humphrey Bogart used to play?

When I was around 20, I was a great fan of film noir. Actually, I still like it very much. My favourite is probably Double Indemnity by Billy Wilder. Detective stories with Humphrey Bogart, that is absolutely classic. The Big Sleep is a great film (with a great name), and the same of course applies to The Maltese Falcon or In a Lonely Place. Many of my favourite films fall in this genre, including Roman Polanski's Chinatown or Curtis Hanson's L.A. - Confidential. So the opportunity to make a real film noir, and even with a private detective who has Down syndrome, was irresistible for me.

How did the viewers in Norway, where the film has already premiered, like Detektiv Down? Weren't you afraid of negative reactions because of your main protagonist?

The Norwegian viewers reacted very well. When the film was being made, there were some worries about poking fun at the main character's illness, but as soon as the viewers found out that detective Down is not just a funny character, but the real hero of the story, they were excited. His innocence and sincerity is in my opinion truly unique. And Svein Andre Hofsø, who portrays the detective Down and suffers from Down syndrome himself, was all over the media for some time thanks to the film. It was very gratifying to see the smiling people who were stopping him in the streets and wanted to talk with him.

- Anna Kopecká

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