9 OUT OF 10 KIDS PREFER CRAYONS TO GUNS]
Conceived & Realized by Kiersten Leigh Johnson.
Featuring and story elements contributed by Emil Jervin Jensen,
Mikkel Andreasen & Sarah Kristoffersen.
Produced by Manola Novelli, Jason Learned & Kiersten Johnson.
Featuring Music by Emil Jervin Jensen, Wintersleep, David Eng and MC Rai.
Kasper has abruptly returned to his native Denmark from a tour of duty in Iraq. His big brother Mikkel is a hawkish Danish patriot who still suffers from injuries he received several years ago from a gang of thugs, the disaffected sons of guest workers who emigrated from the Middle East in the 1970s. Kasper's new girlfriend Isabella, whose father came to Denmark as a political exile, is a peace activist and knows nothing about Kasper's tour of duty. Kasper told her that he was going to Mexico to climb the pyramids.
Torn between his sense of duty and his new understanding of the realities of love and war, Kasper must find his own way through.
Conceived and shot in Copenhagen as an experiment in semi-fiction, 9 OUT OF 10 KIDS PREFER CRAYONS TO GUNS [Copenhagen-V] was influenced by Dogme 95's production model. Many found objects and musical elements were layered in afterward, which requires a rather large "confession" of sins and transgressions against the Vow of Chastity.
I was in Copenhagen in the summer of 2004, researching my doctoral dissertation and working as an intern with Vibeke Windeløv (Lars von Trier's former producer). She had me read a book written by a kind of apolitical man who had been scooped up by Turkish authorities in the 70s, accused of terrorism, tortured, fiancée killed, all kinds of horrors. He then fled to Sweden, met a local girl and eventually got involved with her.
I made an impassioned plea to Vibeke that this book should be adapted into a film, because it shows the inside of the immigrant experience in Sweden, and explores some of the convoluted energies that have led to present day difficulties—the weird combination of Skandi generosity and coldness ("Come to our country! Now sit over there and eat your meatballs and drink your Carlsberg! What? You don't eat pork? You don't drink beer?? You people are strange. Why are you here?"]
Anyway, that story was rattling around in my head, along with my own confusion over Danish participation in the Iraq war—I had known the Skandis to be proud of their peacemaking, and had joked that I was going to ask for asylum in Denmark after Bush and Blair invaded Iraq. I had not counted on the Danish People's Party swinging their way into power and committing troops themselves! That's one element. Also, through a glass darkly, the story reflects some of the polarized debates on immigration and the challenging relationship between the Islamic world and the US. My answer to Trier's secret exploration of Danish national obsessions through the cipher of his "America" trilogy.
Other aspects of the film came into being on the day of production, through the actors I worked with and the "topic" we were given for VideoMarathon, out of which this film emerged. The topic was "Terror."
Because Dogme 95 is not an aesthetic but a formal and production based manifesto, I felt I could not accurately write about the movement without making a film myself.
I participated in the 2004 VideoMarathon in Copenhagen, Denmark, and although their rules did not include the strictures of Dogme 95 and we did not have to take a Vow of Chastity, I was constrained by a few new conditions: the film was to be maximum 5 minutes in length, it must be conceived, written & shot in 24 hours. For my own purposes, I shot the film according to the Dogme rules, although I have committed some transgressions that border on the heretical. But like all good heretics, I feel that I have good reason for my alleged wickedness. As an entrant to the VideoMarathon contest, the film was not successful, since I discovered when trying to edit it down to five minutes that the improvisational acting style along with my penchant for long takes took far longer to develop the story.
In accordance with Vow #1, the set was my rented apartment in Copenhagen and the surrounding neighborhood. In fact, the story rises directly from the authenticity of the location and the actors, what they looked like, how they related to each other, and what they happened to be wearing when they showed up in Copenhagen that day. Story elements, in fact, emerged directly from their personal attributes in our improvised scenes. This is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film, and it has helped me with the somewhat mysterious Vow #7, “Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place in the here and now).”