Before his feature directorial debut, Blind, premiered at Sundance in January 2014, where it won the screenwriting award for World Cinema, Eskil Vogt was known for his collaborations with filmmaker Joachim Trier. They co-wrote Reprise (2006), Oslo, August 31st (2011) and Louder Than Bombs (2015), which makes its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. Like Vogt’s early collaborations with Trier, Blind is a film that plays with conventions and expectations and perspectives. It’s the story of Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), a woman who has recently become blind, adjusting to her new life. It’s a film that demands close attention, and rewards it with playful storytelling and inventive associations that reverberate between the real and the imagined. The 2014 Village Voice Film Poll voted Blind the Best Undistributed Film.
With Blind finally receiving its well-deserved American release, I spoke with Vogt, who lives in Oslo, Norway, about his debut feature—nearly two years after its world-premiere screening. “I’m looking forward to making something new,” he remarked with a laugh when I asked if he was tired of talking about the film after all this time. “But at the same time I’m very happy that people still want to discuss it. Some films just die after screening in their home country, but this one just keeps on going.”
Editor’s note: Blind opens simultaneously in New York at IFC and online exclusively on Fandor. The following interview may contain what some consider spoilers.
Sean Axmaker: I enjoyed the way the story unfolded and how I had to reorient myself to the film every five or ten minutes as perspectives or identities changed.
Eskil Vogt: I’d like that to be like a game for the spectator. It’s not that you hide everything and at the end of the movie you see, ‘Oh it was just a dream,’ or ‘It’s just inside a crazy person’s head,’ and you’re disappointed because that’s not the rules of the game. In my movie I would like a constant shift in perspective that keeps telling people that you should pay attention, that there’s something else going on, and trying to get people involved in that. They could have fun, but it can be sort of a ride. That was my aim: constant shifts in perspective and some rug-pulling as well, but giving people a chance to follow it.