The short film 2nd Class (or Second Class) tells the story of a young teacher, Charlotte, who learns the horrors of prejudice firsthand when she is attacked by a group of Neo-Nazis, whose leader is played by director Jimmy Olsson, himself. When she learns that one of her students is the son of the man who attacked her, she takes it upon herself to let love win the day. We interviewed Olsson to get a look at this special story.
What inspired this story?
I read about what happened in Charlottesville in the US (hence, the lead character’s name) last year and a lot of similar rallies were happening all over Europe, as well. So I started to think about how we as adults teach our children and how we mould them with our views and thoughts. It is as if we want to create small copies of ourselves.
Why doesn’t Charlotte directly address what happened with Anton?
I felt like I didn’t want any judgment coming from her. I wanted her to protect him and also, in the end, that is kind of an open ending. I wanted a reflection of if she reports the father, what would happen to the boy, then? Perhaps the father can’t be rescued, but the boy is still an innocent child.
What was it like portraying such an odious character within your own film?
It was horrible. I am never doing that kind of thing again. The producer thought I should do it and I was very unsure for a while. There was a back-up actor to jump in if worst came to worst. One reason I choose to do it is that where I grew up in the south of Sweden, we had a lot of Nazis running around and a lot of hooligans, as well. I hung out with a great mix of people and I ran into the so-called Nazis, as well – so I remember what it felt like. To be a part of a group even if you never had the same opinions as they had, I was close to them, since it was a small town.
What messages do you feel audiences should get from the film?
One message is that we need to think about the children, how we communicate to them and what we communicate. They are the next generation, and even if you grow up in a loving tolerant family, things can rapidly change if they meet friends whom they look up to and respect – they could have different views and opinions. With that being said, it’s a collective thing where we all need to see more than one side of things. We can’t be too comfortable and read one article on Facebook and believe it; and thats your research and view of things. We need to talk about fear a lot more than we do. We need to research a lot more [as to] why we grow hatred and where the fear comes from.
How do you feel about all the awards the film has won, such as winning Best Screenplay at the SHORT to the Point International Short Film Festival and Audience Favorite at the São Paulo International Short Film Festival?
That was very humbling, of course, and it feels great with all the awards so far. It’s a receipt that the film works and that the message is somewhat universal. People all over the world can relate to the big problem of racism and it is necessary that we remind ourselves constantly that we all are human beings and we are all alike. There is only one race.
Tell us about your future projects.
Right now I’m writing a feature based on this short film and I’m also writing two other features as well. One is a story about a guy who meets a refugee who is staying in his childhood room while he was away in prison.