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Rojda Sekersöz

Words: Linn Wiberg / Photography: Frida Vega Salomonsson

Film director Rojda Sekersöz is drawn to good stories, like the coming-of-age saga in her first feature film 'Dröm vidare' ['Beyond Dreams']. Warmth and authenticity run throughout her work – as she puts it, "Everything is fiction and, at the same time, nothing is made up."

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Why was 'Dröm vidare' an important story for you to tell?– I wanted to show the battle of the group versus the individual, but I didn’t want it to be obvious what was good and what was evil. I also wanted to explore the idea that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, which is something we’re told quite often in life.

'Dröm vidare' has been praised for its refreshing and believable portrayal of female friendship. Why do you think it feels so spot-on?– We had a great team on this film and made sure that everything we showed came from our own experience. Everything is fiction and, at the same time, nothing is made up.

Any stand-out moments from filming?– The scene when Mirja and Sarah reminisce and pretty much say goodbye to each other. In that moment, it was hard to hold back the tears. Evin Ahmad and Gizem Erdogan were brilliant. Watching it on the monitor, I just became part of the audience.

Is there anything you’d like to change about the film industry?– I’d make all the decision-makers and studio bosses swap places with those who’ve never worked in film before. It would be exciting to see what decisions were made and what would come out of that!

What inspired you as you were growing up?– 'Billy Elliot' and 'The Believer' are the two films that made me as a 13-year-old want to become a director. There was something about them that reflected the way I saw the world and the people in it.

It was also the poetry of Daniel Boyacioglu and the music of Ebba Grön and Fugees that sparked my creativity at a very young age. Music has always played a central role in my work and these artists all tell amazing stories through their different mediums and genres.

Where do you find your inspiration these days?– To me, poetry and film go hand in hand. And I have many songs that inspire my work – not necessarily whole tracks, but just sentences or melodies. Kendrick Lamar, Seinabo Sey and Thåström are the artists I listen to when I’m creating. Like the track ‘Easy’ by Seinabo Sey, which played a really significant role in the development of 'Dröm vidare'.

What are your best tips for people with creative block?– Go for a walk, or do jumping jacks. Eat sugar and drink coffee. Then, go back to your desk and get started. Don’t evaluate, just do. No one needs to see what you’ve created – you just have to get going.

What are you playing on repeat right now?– Right now, I’m in an Angel Haze phase.

What film has the best soundtrack?– Hmmm… I don’t know about best, but I love the soundtracks for the Tarantino films. I like the way he often uses songs that have already been released and brings them back to life. His choice of music feels really distinct.

What gig would you stand front row at?– I’d like it to be Kendrick Lamar in a small venue. I think he’s an incredible wordsmith.

What do you listen to when you want to relax?– Hozan Besir, because I love the way he plays his instrument and how imperfect it is.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?– 'Skyfall' by Adele, because it allows me to be dramatic!

Now listen

Check out Rojda’s playlist of music that inspires her, or listen to one of her favourites – ‘Svensk Soul’ – on Spotify.