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A RESPECTABLE LIFE

Sweden, 1979 (MIFF 1980, Programme 20)

Director: Stefan Jarl

"More than ten years ago I did a semi-documentary feature which was a big success in the cinemas and later on television, named They Call Us Misfits (Dom Kallar Oss Mods). The film followed two guys - Kenta and Stoffe - 17 years old, how they lived, their background, their views on life and about growing up. They were two in a gang in Stockholm City, everything was possible and life was within reach...

Ten years later I went back to the same people again to see what happened to Kenta and Stoffe and their friends. And it became a very dramatic examination. What I met was 'das Lumpenprobletariat' in Stockholm. Ten years ago the gang to and fro smoked pot during the shooting of the film.

A few years later heroin came to Sweden and took their lives. During the shooting of my new film 200 died in Sweden from heroin - this is the official figure from the police, the truth is perhaps the double. When we shot the film at one underground station in ten days, 11 guys died in the same lavatory from heroin. So this is one of the main themes of the film.

Two of the leading characters in the film Stoffe and his friend, die in the film, they only became 27 years old. I noticed that I went on with the film just to prevent Stoffe from dying - but I lost...

The other theme deals with Kenda and his mother, Majken. Majken kills her husband with a knife and is taken by the police. Kenta tries to find her and does so in a women's prison. She has been sentenced to three years for murder. We follow Kenta when he meets her on her first leave. Kenta himself has been sentenced to prison several times for drug-peddling, so when they talk we can hear one generation repeated in the other.

The film is shot in colour and 35 mm, and shows you Sweden from a totally new point of view. This is not the welfare-society you heard of, and it's time to change the word 'freedom into something else..." Stefan Jarl

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