Aina Clotet (Barcelona, 1982) plays almost all the keys in This is not Sweden, a series that narrates in a comedy-drama key the contradiction in which a pair of young parents, Marianna and Sam, find themselves when it comes to protecting their children of the dangers of life. Created jointly with Valentina Viso, Dani González and co-directed with Mar Coll, Clotet is also the producer and protagonist of a co-production of five public televisions: 3Cat, RTVE, STV (Sweden), YLE (Finland) and NDR (Germany).
The series, which consists of eight episodes filmed in Catalan, Spanish, English and Swedish, premieres this Monday on TV3 and will be available on 3Cat and, from Tuesday the 28th, on RTVE Play. It arrives with two honors under its arm: it has won the Prix Europa award for the best series of 2023 and it is the first Spanish series with the Green Film seal.
How did the idea for the series come about?
They invited me to some parenting therapy led by a therapist specialized in parenting, like in the series. We were all different but we had in common that we wanted to give the best possible version of parenting and seek all kinds of guarantees. And we saw a story in this search for excellence. The series talks about fear and how, sometimes, trying to find this perfection in parenting can make you lose what children ask of you most, which is the present, being here and now.
Does the title of the series refer to this obsession with being perfect parents?
Això no és Suècia was not the initial title, but rather comes from a secondary character who was saying “this wouldn't happen in Sweden.” And then we thought that this title reflected the spirit of the series in the sense that everyone would want this to be Sweden as a symbol of the ideal when in reality it doesn't exist. In search of this ideal, Marianna and Sam leave the city and go to live in a neighborhood in Collserola. And when they think they are doing everything they need to, a tragedy happens and they realize that in life there are no certainties and you cannot control everything, which is what the series explains.
How much of the series is based on real events and on your life in particular?
The series is based on the desire to laugh at ourselves with a look of black humor. From here it is fiction, which does not mean that it is not full of experiences and anecdotes from the entire creative team. However, once we lay the foundations, everything becomes a fiction where we are also going to explore the new masculinity with the character of Sam, who belongs to a generation where we all want to do this respectful parenting but who still has no references, which It makes it very complicated to change roles and find the balance you are looking for.
Sam is played by the actor Marcel Borràs, his partner in real life. Was the objective to enhance the connection between the main couple?
It was a very organic decision for him to play Sam. I already directed Marcel in my first short film, Tiger, and we already used this autofiction. In this case it was quite clear to me because there were many challenges to be achieved, such as working with children and non-actors or having time limitations, and at the very least I wanted to play at home and have things assured such as trust. Marcel and I have been together for years and we no longer need to talk about many things between us. And furthermore, I consider him a very good actor.
With so much trust between you, was there a risk of not crossing the screen?
Both Marianna and Sam are different enough from us to always keep a distance. Obviously, when one interprets, it is always part of oneself and of what he has seen and resonates with him, but the art of interpreting is knowing how to put on different glasses and understand different points of view.
The series bears the Green Film seal. Explain to us what this has entailed.
We feel very proud because it is the first Spanish series to achieve this. It requires a lot of effort and investment, but I think we currently have no other way. Implying? Obviously the base is not plastic, but this would be the easiest. It also means using renewable energy, not buying but renting or reusing (all the costumes came out of our closets), traveling by public transport, leaving the spaces better than how you found them... In addition, on filming we had a person in charge of correcting attitudes that were not sustainable.