Many dream of escaping the world’s nightmarish greed for a more bucolic existence on a commune. Of those who make the jump, perhaps a few find themselves in a cult. In the Oslo-based duo Philco Fiction’s latest video, “June 17,” directors Runar Sørheim and Øyvind Langdalen explore a rather cultish commune—one full of misfits looking for meaning and camaraderie in the worship of a radioactive entity.
To make the the world feel “lived-in,” Sørheim and Langdalen took a 21st century multi-format approach to the filmmaking. Selfies, neon lights, glitch, anime and, like a David Lynch film, screens within screens abound in “June 17,” which was filmed mainly in a condemned dancing academy in Oslo over two days. Philco Fiction’s moody electronic pop, with echoes of Little Dragon, soundtracks the slice of life in this troubled and insulated world of communards.
“[It’s] a narrative music video focused on a delirious grassroots movement, guarding and worshipping a radioactive entity,” Sørheim and Langdalen tell The Creators Project. “Through this experience they find new meaning, camaraderie, and some side effects. Our way into this environment is the new disciple, a teenage girl [played by Ingrid Aanerud Solli], looking for anything to cling on to.”
To make the world feel believable and, again, lived-in, Sørheim and Langdalen established aesthetics, rules and a mythology, then portray this with a documentary-like approach. They were inspired, in particular, by filmmakers and music video directors like Chris Cunningham, Jonathan Glazer, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Fruit Chan, and the late Andrzej Zulawski. The influence of of both Cunningham’s Rubber Johnny and Glazer’s Under the Skin is apparent, but certainly not overwhelming or detrimental to Sørheim and Langdalen’s filmmaking.
“We wanted to create a creature, collaborating with creature designer Simen Mustvedt,” the directors explain. “The result is a practical puppet, a creepy combination of an infant, dim sum, and E.T.’s troubled niece. The puppet can breathe, move individual limbs and illuminate its vital organs."
Judging by the body horror, the story’s characters and the radioactive entity aren’t long for this world. What would have been interesting is to see what happens to the commune when the radioactive entity dies.
Stream Philco Fiction’s sophomore LP Talk/Brag below.