Maja Borg on Future My Love
Former Edinburgh College of Art student Maja Borg discusses her experimental documentary
Receiving its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Future My Love couldn’t be more timely. Writer-director Maja Borg began work on her debut feature, an experimental documentary that connects her own personal experiences with the global economic crisis, back in 2007, and she developed the film over a number of years as the world economies contracted. Now, in the light of what’s happening in Europe, the film’s thesis – that bankrupt corporate capitalism needs to be replaced with another economic system, but that, in order to do that, humankind needs to overcome its inability to learn from past mistakes and embrace change – sadly seems to be more (ahem) on the money than ever.
At once thought-provoking and emotionally-provocative, Borg’s film contrasts interviews with various thinkers, most notably the 95-year-old ‘futurist’ Jacque Fresco, who proposes an alternative economic model that does away with money completely, with more poetic sequences that dramatise the end and aftermath of the filmmaker’s relationship with her lover, the Italian actress Nadya Cazan, who was the subject of Borg’s short film Ottica Zero. Given Future My Love blurs the boundaries between documentary and fiction filmmaking, it’s wholly appropriate that it has been honoured with the distinction of being the first ‘documentary’ to be nominated for EIFF’s Michael Powell Award, the competition prize for the best British film of the year, which from 2012 onwards will no longer restrict eligibility to fiction films.
Borg, who was born in Sweden, studied film and television at Edinburgh College of Art and now lives in Glasgow, says Future My Love grew out of her earlier short. ‘Ottica Zero,’ she says, ‘was focused on Nadya Cazan and her idea of and search for enlightenment. She had met Jacque Fresco, so I came across him that way. Back then, in 2007, Jacque’s idea of a resource-based economy [as opposed to a monetary one] was really not talked about. He was asking questions about the economy in a non-party-political way, on a much more fundamental level. I really identified with that. I really think we have to change our economy. We can’t go on repeating the cycle of boom and bust – the environment can’t sustain that.’
How did Borg’s film develop from what might have been a conventional documentary about the economy into something much less conventional, with these two strands, one to engage the head and the other directed at the heart? ‘Approaching commissioners with a film about the economy became easier as the economy was dying,’ says Borg, ‘which is a bit ironic. However, we know so much more about the economy now than we did five years ago. So the film has had to change as the collective awareness of what the economy is has changed. In the beginning, we were explaining things about the economy, but since its collapse people have become educated. So, we were able to take things out of the film and instead focus on more psychological aspects, such as what happens to a culture when it’s trapped in a system based on competition.
So I had a film full of interesting information,’ Borg says, ‘but I needed to take it to another level. The question that kept coming back to me was: if we know what is wrong with the economy and we know how to change a lot of what it wrong, why don’t we? I needed something in the film to explore that issue: why we don’t change the fundamentals of a relationship when it us hurting us. So, that’s when I brought in my experience of love – I needed something that was true to me, that I understood personally and that I could explain and make universal.’
Evidently, the making of Future My Love has been something of an emotional odyssey. What has making it meant to Borg on a personal level? ‘I wanted to make a film about the people who are thinking about solutions,’ she says, ‘but it’s hard to make a film about people who want to make the world a better place, because you may be seen as naive, as an optimistic or an idealist. It’s much easier to be cynical. I had to really challenge myself, not to be cynical, but to present these ideas that focus on solutions, not problems. Personally, making this film has had a great impact on me. It’s like having to understand a different belief system. The perspective you get on your own society is quite amazing. I wanted to share that through the film. And I used this new way of investigating life to understand how I wanted to have relationships with people on a personal level.’
Finally, how does Borg feel about Future My Love receiving it world premiere at EIFF and it being nominated for the Michael Powell Award? ‘I think it’s really nice to have the film nominated for the award,’ she says. ‘It’s saying documentaries are no longer just a sub-genre of films. And it’s really nice to premiere at Edinburgh. I worked at the Cameo Cinema, in the box office, when I was studying at ECA. So it is,’ Borg says, ‘like bringing the film home.’
Future My Love is screening as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival, Thurs 21 Jun 18:05 and Fri 29 Jun 20:30.