Q&A with Nils Malmros

For over 20 years, Nils Malmros has been in the habit of announcing each new film as his final work, maintaining that he’d exhausted everything in his personal experience that might interest an audience. But there was still one story he longed to tell, traces of which have appeared in his films since Pain of Love, but which seemed an impossible undertaking, even though it continued to haunt him—the story of a personal catastrophe: the killing of his baby daughter by his wife during a psychotic episode in 1983. Malmros finally managed to bring himself to put these events on film 30 years later. Sorrow and Joy begins with filmmaker Johannes (Jakob Cedergren), the eighth of Malmros’s on-screen alter egos, returning home from delivering a lecture to find his parents stricken with grief. It isn’t until close to the end of Sorrow and Joy that Johannes’s wife Signe (Helle Fagralid) describes exactly what happened in the intervening hours, answering a question that has gone unspoken for decades. The subject of Sorrow and Joy isn’t infanticide, however, it’s about one man trying to save the woman he loves, and how society helps him.

Read more about the films of Nils Malmros over at Film Comment.