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Interview with Rat King Filmmaker Petri Kotwica

By Maria Esteves – May 2, 2012

Petri Kotwica (PK) is a writer, editor, actor, and award-winning filmmaker from Finland. His passion for film art began as a child. Kotwica has edited, written, and appeared in numerous films. Kotwica directed Homesick (Koti-ikävä) received 12 awards, Black Ice (Musta jaa) received 6 awards, Las Nueve Vidas, and Force Majeure. His television series include Alamaailma Trilogia: Lakimies and Runoraati. Kotwica’s latest powerful technology thriller RAT KING premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in New York, Thursday, April 19, 2012. A special Q&A discussion with director Kotwica immediately followed the international premiere. I had the honor of interviewing filmmaker Petri Kotwica at Tribeca Film Festival on Tuesday, April 24, 2012.

ME: What inspired the making of the film RAT KING?



PK: I was inspired by my 12 year-old son who played video games excessively. In 2007, while in Berlin during post-production for a previous film the idea to make a realistic genre film about online gaming came about.

ME: Briefly describe the film RAT KING.

PK: The film is about Juri a male high school senior who plays daily online gaming to the point of addiction. His social life and schooling is affected. When he decides to quit, his online gaming opponent visit him at home and ask for help concerning a real life game situation.

ME: What was your greatest challenge in making the film?

PK: My greatest challenge was balancing between story telling verses metaphorical. For example, the importance of a players mind.

ME: How long did it take to make the film?

PK: In 2010, the script was completed. Then we began shooting and the film was released in 2012.

ME: What was the budget for the film?

PK: The budget was $1.6 million euros ($2 million U.S.).

ME: Online gaming has become an addiction causing fatalities. In February 2011, a man died after playing online gaming for 3 days straight without sleep and eating very little. What impact will RAT KING have among the online gaming community?

PK: I was motivated to raise awareness of the possibility of online gaming becoming a very serious addiction. Gaming is fantastic! Today, gaming looks better than some movies. However, excessive playing causes problems. With kids and teenagers, it is our responsibility as parents to be aware of what happens behind closed door in a child’s room. If he or she stays awake at night and sleeps at school then obviously it needs to be addressed.

ME: At what point in your life you became interested in the film industry?

PK: As a child, I loved films. I studied philosophy and literature at the university. At age 27, I applied to film school in Helsinki, Finland, and luckily, I was accepted.

ME: What films have you directed?

PK: My first feature film was HOMESICK. It premiered in 2005 at international film festivals and won approximately 12 awards. My second film BLACK ICE premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival and was a competition nominee. BLACK ICE has been remade for Korea and there is talk of an American remake.

ME: Any projects soon to follow?

PK: Yes, I am working on three projects. My first project is a thriller film. It is in the script writing process. The film is about a woman when rushing to the hospital to give birth by car accidentally kills a man on the road without getting caught. Then she tries to makeup for it with the widow until the widow finds out. My second project is a drama film. It is in the script writing process with someone else.

My third film project DEADLINE, is in the first draft of the writing process. DEADLINE is about a woman whose father is killed violently abroad. She finds out that she has a stepbrother in that country. She then travels to that country to tell her stepbrother in order to bring him in time to his father funeral. When it is almost too late, she realizes that possibly her stepbrother had something to do with her father’s death.

ME: Thank you, director Kotwica.

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