For the third semester in a row, one of Hugo Ljungbäck’s films has been selected to be featured in the student film festival here at UWM. The film “Last Words” was featured for the 73rd Student Film and Video Festival, which followed his spring 2017 submission of “When I Was Four,” and fall 2016 submission of “Cathedral Square.”
Not only is Hugo making impressions locally in Milwaukee, the film “When I was Four” was chosen to be featured in M3F3 in Marcellus, NY and Beijing International Short Film Festival in Beijing, China. The film explores the childhood memory of moving from Lund, where Hugo was born, to Hassleholm, his father’s hometown. Hugo reflects on that time, and what he can recall from it.
“Recently I have been struggling with determining the authenticity of my memories. I struggle with figuring out if what I’m remembering is a memory of an actual event or feeling, a memory I have conjured up from a collection of different memories. Or stories I have been told. Or pictures I have seen. Or a complete fabrication of an event that never happened to begin with.” Ljungbäck recounts in the film.
Hugo Ljungbäck is a junior who currently double majors in Film, Video, Animation and New Genres and Media studies. By way of Hassleholm, Sweden, Hugo traveled to the states to study experimental film at UW-Milwaukee. While colleges and universities in Sweden only offered parts of the program he wanted to study, UW-Milwaukee’s program included both practical film making and the theoretical study of film.
Another film of his, “An Hour in My Lover’s Bedroom” was featured in the LGBT Film Festival. The silent, five-and-a-half minute video was shot back in March as an assignment for his short film class. “An Hour in My Lover’s Bedroom” features mostly still images taken on a trip to Chicago during a visit to his boyfriend’s home. The film played before ‘4 days in France,” making Hugo was one of only three students whose work was chosen to be featured.
“It’s not the kind of film you would think it would be, based on the title,” said Associate Professor of English & Film Studies Tami Williams. “It’s a reflection of self and other and how you see others in terms of identity that is not a part of mainstream cinematic representation.”
Williams’ observations were spot on in Hugo’s intention.
“I was trying to create an understanding of the space and how I relate to it,” said Ljungback. “I was trying to understand its history and how I fit into that history.
When not making films, Hugo still carries out film-related tasks. As an undergraduate research assistant, Hugo recovers a collection of 16mm films, catalogues them, and determine if they are suitable for viewing.
“He has an insatiable appetite for film…making, scholarship, learning,” said Williams.
When Hugo’s not making films or recovering films, he’s writing about them. This year, one of Hugo’s article abstracts was featured in Inquiries Journals.
“The Feminine Threat: Reconsidering the Damsel in Distress in Early Disney Films” addresses the role of women and femininity in early Disney Films between the years 1937-1967.
Here’s an excerpt from the article written by Ljungbäck.
“The feminine threat is subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, portrayed through binaries in many of Disney’s films: masculinity opposes femininity; independence opposes family; freedom opposes domesticity. In either case, Disney’s women have been using their femininity to enforce feminine values on the men around them–whether for love, for family, or for protection–ever since Snow White first entered the dwarves’ cottage. And where assertiveness and masculinity fails, Disney’s women find power in emotion and femininity. Although it presents them with a limited repertoire–from beauty, dance, and song, to domestic housework and submission–they have found different ways to use these powers, whether they wield their beauty and song to entice the men with affection, or fake submission to make them believe they are in charge.”
Williams constantly praises the work of Ljungbäck, and credits parts of his success to his work ethic.
“You give him a crumb, and he’ll come back with a loaf of bread,” said Williams. “That was a bad analogy but you get it.”
While expressing such high remarks about Hugo’s character, it becomes difficult when thinking about his potential departure after graduation.
“It’ll be harder to do as many things, but it will be easy for students to pick up where he left off,” said Williams. “It’s a privilege to work with a student like him. He pushes you more as a teacher but he’s also the type of student you learn from.
Hugo is also part of the Honor’s college, chair of the Honors Film Screening, and an Undergraduate Research fellow. He’s a video production assistant, and was the programming assistant for the LGBT Film Festival all while maintaining 3.97 GPA.
“Do you ever go home?”
“To eat and sleep, when I’m not watching a movie,” said Ljungbäck.
ABC’s Scandal is one thing Hugo gets to enjoy in his free time, which makes it difficult that the show is coming up on its final season.
“Shonda is contributing a lot of male characteristics to Olivia’s character and people don’t like it,” said Ljungbäck. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when Scandal goes off.”
With the success of his films being featured, he wishes one day for them to be shown in Sweden, where the experience with his family will be “pretty nice.”
Hugo isn’t completely sure on his plans after graduation on whether he’ll be in Milwaukee or back home. Although, he did mention college is free in Sweden.
Hugo has managed to master what many students can’t get a grasp on, making those 24 hours work to his advantage. Over Christmas break, Hugo will travel to Prague to witness Julian Rosefeldt’s installation of Manifesto at the National Gallery. The provocative film which starred Cate Blanchett was featured at Milwaukee Film Festival, which Hugo also volunteered at this past fall.