MFF Praha - Febiofest
THE UNIQUE LAST AND FIRST MEN WAS THE FIRST AND SADLY ALSO THE LAST FILM DIRECTED BY ICONIC ICELANDIC COMPOSER JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON
After Jóhannsson’s untimely death, the sci-fi poem had to be finished by his collaborators, led by cinematographer and this year’s Febiofest guest Sturla Brandth Grøvlen.
Jóhannsson had worked on his urgent message about the conceit and decline of humanity for ten years. He was inspired by the 1930 book of the same name, written by Olaf Stapledon. “It’s basically a philosophical and anthropological study of future humanity. The film quotes the last chapter of the book, where the ninth human race faces extinction. Then Jóhann came across an exhibition of these huge concrete war monuments in Yugoslavia, which look quite utopian. He saw a connection between Olaf’s text and the feeling these monuments brought up in him, and he decided to explore that in his film,” the Norwegian cinematographer explained.
In 2014, Jóhannsson and Grøvlen went together to the Balkans, where they shot footage for four weeks without a concrete plan. “During the shooting, Jóhann got the message that he had been nominated for a Golden Globe; he was extremely busy in the following years. Since this is a rather abstract and experimental film, connecting the story with the music took a lot of trial-and-error experiments, so it was a slow process. When Jóhann died, in 2018, there was still quite a lot of work to be done. We had a roughly 90-minute cut, but the music was still tentative. I became a sort of supervisor, a producer/director, and I finalized the film together with the editor and composer. It took us about a year,” Grøvlen reminisced.
You can experience Last and First Men on the big screen during our Febiofest Regions tour, and from 23 September also in cinemas in regular distribution. Sturla Brandth Grøvlen has several events at Febiofest, including a Masterclass on 21 September.