Lisa Aschan: “The Greatest Threat To Mankind Is Man Himself”

Dystopian sci-fi movie The Deposit (Det Vita Folket), released 27th November, portrays an underground detention center and explores the power struggles created by its claustrophobic environment. Director Lisa Aschan talks about her latest project.

“I wanted it to feel like being in a spaceship. Being trapped in something and not be able to get out; we are in a system. That the greatest threat to mankind is man himself,” says director Lisa Aschan.

The idea for the film came about after Aschen found out that in Sweden there are places called safekeeping, where undocumented people await deportation. “I wanted to investigate this kind of place, where different rules apply to different people, and how it affects them,” she says.

The film is shot in meandering shelters in Gothenburg which were built during the Cold War. Prior to filming Lisa Aschan watched The Shining every day for three weeks, and just like Stanley Kubrick’s eerie Overlook Hotel, the site has the ability to distort the minds of the people staying there.

The Deposit tells the story of Alex, who is arrested on the street outside a grocery store for not having the correct paperwork, and taken to an underground prison where people are being held awaiting deportation. From the moment Alex arrives, she is determined to escape. No matter the cost.

“This is about fear. When out of their comfort zone, a person can then become something else entirely. What you do when you feel safe is different to what you do than when you feel threatened. And that goes for both sides in this film, both staff and detainees. They are afraid of losing what they have, on several different levels. It can change very quickly who has control. Anything can happen, power is never static.”

“When I did my research, language was something I noticed. Those who work there have a double role. They should both be guardians and carers, and it is impossible. When forced to resort to language that makes it easier to say things that are unpleasant to say. It’s like when you break up, it’s harder to say ‘I do not love you’, and easier to say ‘I want to take a break’. ‘We will execute you’ is harder to say than ‘we will deport you’. If you say that someone escaped, it has a different tone than to say that someone has absconded.”

“This film is a distillation of all of Europe. It is important to recall that this is here and now,” says Lisa Aschan.