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‘Silent Nights’ illustrates the complexities of being human and immigration




The official poster for the Oscar nominated short
The official poster for the Oscar nominated short "Silent Nights."
Official poster for "Silent Nights"

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Our series of interviews with Oscar nominated shorts continues.

In case you missed it, on Thursday A Martinez spoke with Juanjo Giminez about his quirky short, "Timecode." In this Spanish short, the audience is reminded they're more than their monotonous jobs through the whimsical actions of two parking lot security guards.

Wednesday brought a conversation with writer, director and composer of "Ennemis Interieurs," Selim Azzazi. This short tackles anti-foreigner sentiment through a tense interrogation scene.

On Tuesday, we looked at the Hungarian short, "Sing," directed by Kristoff Deak. This short's major theme was about giving a voice to the oppressed and fighting injustice.

But we kicked off the whole series on Monday, with a look at "La Femme et le TGV." Director Timo Von Gunten discussed the film's theme's of loneliness and human connection.

And we conclude our series with "Silent Nights." This short follows the story of Kwame, a homeless immigrant from Ghana who arrives in Denmark to find not just cold weather but also a cold reception. That is until he meets a compassionate shelter volunteer who not only opens her heart to him but also her home and her life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjgM4yc4aqA

The thing is Kwame has a secret. One that drives him to do things like steal money and lie to the one person he claims he loves. Is the reason for his deception good enough to explain why Kwame does the things he does?

"Silent Nights" is the Oscar-nominated live action short written and directed by Aske Bang and produced by two-time Academy Award winner in the same category Kim Magnusson.

Aske explained to A Martinez, how the story for this short came about through a family collaboration.

Aske: "My father, he came to me and said he has this idea to film about this illegal immigrant and Danish volunteer at the shelter, and it's a place right next to where we live. So I thought, yeah that was a very good idea, then we started doing research and wrote the script. And it's because we have a lot of illegal immigrants from Africa in Copenhagen. So it's something we see in the streets, so I think it was a very relevant story."

An immigrant story right now is very timely because of the things going on in the world. What made "Silent Nights" a project that what you wanted to get behind and produce, Kim?

Kim: "You know, I didn't say, 'Oh! This is is an immigrant story. Oh! We have to tell that story,' because in Denmark as Aske just said, it's something that we live with for a long long time and yes of course the whole Syrian crisis which actually came after we started this movie has of course made this more timely than ever and therefore people think that when they see the film they think, oh we wanted to do this story because of that but actually it started out as just a good feeling. A heartfelt story about...a love story in a way between two people basically are up against the world...and then they find comfort and love in themselves, or within them together."

Is that part of the point of the film to wonder and imagine how far you would really go if you were put in that situation?

Aske: "Yeah, in a way. I wanted to show the complexity of people that not every people are just only good, only bad. You can still be a good person even though you do something bad sometimes, you know? Everyone does. That was very important for me, not to be too politically correct, just showing people how they are. Even the female actor, she also lies for Kwame at a point. Sometimes people lie and its not always a bad thing, sometimes its to protect other people."

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Audio coming soon.