In the Shadow of the Phantom

“A little girl is playing with her shadow. It follows her, doing everything she does. The girl is fascinated – she is totally in control, deciding exactly what the next step will be. But suddenly, something happens. As she turns a corner, she runs right into a bigger shadow and no matter where she turns, how she runs or waves, her little follower has disappeared, swallowed up by a bigger darkness. The girl stands still for a while, not understanding…”

Susanne Björkman’s Prix Italia-winning documentary, In the Shadow of the Phantom, tells the story of 25-year-old Aziza, a woman who works in a Stockholm metro station close to a local group of skinheads’ stomping ground. Her mother is German, her father is Tunisian and Aziza herself was brought up in Sweden, but people have let her know in no uncertain terms that she does not fit in.

Susanne Björkman was born in 1946, beginning her radio career at the Swedish Radio Company in 1971 and working exclusively in documentary form from 1976. She’s a garlanded feature-maker winning awards such as the Prix Italia, the Jörgen Ericsson Award and the Ikaros. In 1990 she became Sweden’s first professor in radio production at the Drama Institute in Stockholm. Susanne’s programmes are often portraits of people she has spent extensive time with, recording what happens in their lives. What is recorded is both an external and an internal process. The conflicts or themes that crystallise during the recording are often quite separate from the genesis of the documentary.