In January 2013 GO STRAIGHT HOME becomes a finished documentary short film. The team reflects on the one a half-year journey consisting of development and production.
For Oscar Hedin, producer and original idea, it started with a story told by an RFSU-worker in Bangladesh (RFSU; the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education):
One of the RFSU staff in Bangladesh told me that many young girls in Bangladesh found it difficult walking to school because of fear of being sexually harassed. As many parents shared this fear a common solution would be to not allow the girls to go to school at all. This worsened their prospects for the future radically. I was inspired by this story and it became the core of the film.
During the spring of 2012 directors Iga Mikler and Maud Nycander was attached to the project. Iga is an award winning cinematographer and Maud Nycander is one of Sweden’s most prominent film directors working within the documentary field. She has been awarded a Guldbagge for Best Documentary and directed Palme, a biopic on Olof Palme which became a box office smash rather unknown to the documentary genre.
Maud & Iga started preparing for the trip to Bangladesh. They undertook research, got vaccinated and started putting together suitable camera equipment. In September director and cinematographer Iga flew out to Bangladesh;
We chose to shoot with a DSLR, a compact solution that probably sounds simple and easy. But to make it work we had to add a lot of extra equipment and it was time consuming with the digital post work to be carried out in the field. I have done a fair bit of travelling but Dhaka was in many ways a chock. The traffic is very scary, lots of cars with added bumpers and the middle of each street is provided with barbed wire to prevent people from crossing the street. It is hot. People are everywhere. But they are also the ones who improve the overall impression – I met so many people who helped me along the way. That, I will never forget.
In Bangladesh the team was assisted by Steps Towards Development, an organisation working to prevent and fight sexual violence. During the first week Iga went to find a girl for the film.
One day we made a trip out into countryside. Riding slow on a motorbike across small bumpy roads and crossing a bridge that was actually more of a plank. I sat at the back with all the equipment thinking, are we there yet! A few days later we shot some film at a school in Dhaka. I interviewed a few girls in a class about their lives. Reba stood out, she radiated a straightforwardness and strength that I really believed in.
As Maud arrived in Dhaka she also connected with Reba and they started planning the work around filming the scenes with sexual harassment. It wasn’t at all easy as Maud recalls and tells how the story developed;
It was too dangerous for Reba and too difficult to catch it as it happened. So instead we went back to Reba’s previous experiences and made reconstructions of these events. When we got to know Reba and her life we felt that it was of great importance to include other elements to the story, such as the risk of getting married off as a child that was a threat to her and her friends. But also poverty.
Filming on the street was also a challenge as Iga remembers;
Each time I brought my camera out about 40 people would gather around me. They would be in my way, staring straight into the lens. I had to have about a dozen helpers controlling the crowd.
Having spent a month and a half travelling, meeting people and shooting, Iga and Maud returned to Sweden. They are incredibly grateful to everyone who helped them. To the ones who helped them make the film. To the ones who opened up and shared their lives and experiences.
The film reached the editing room during the end of autumn 2012. Production assistant Jonathan Forefält undertook the immense work that was the digital post production which demanded many late nights. Editor Hanna Lejonqvist (awarded a Guldbagge for Best Editing and a World Cinema Documentary Editing Award at Sundance for The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975) assisted in shaping the story, tone and pace of the film. Klas Gullbrand wrote the score to support the visuals and Nanna Dalunde worked hard to give the image the right colour tone. Oscar Alvarez sound edited the project.
The film was finished in early January 2013 and was off to a good start as it got accepted to Göteborg International Film Festival 2013.
To date the film has screened at Umeå International Short Film Festival, Uppsala International Short Film Festival, BUFF Film Festival – Best Films For Children & Young People, Flimmer Film Festival and LUCAS Internationals Kinderfilmfestival Frankfurt. The film has also screened at Almedalen Week (a week in July with speeches, seminars and other political activities, considered to be the most important forum in Swedish politics) and at Nordiskt Forum – New Action on Women’s Rights in Malmö (a weekend long conference focusing on bringing about proposals to promote equality between women and men). It has also been screened internationally at the UNGEI (United Nations Girls' Education Initiative) Global Advisory Committee Meeting in Bangkok.