Oddmund Lindeflaten, a 26 year-old adorable Norwegian soccer player, arrives in Lindsborg, Kansas, a quaint Swedish farming community to work as an au pair for Helen Hazelton. Helen, recently widowed, and her two sons, Atticus, 15, totally bored, and Beau, 9, shy and insecure, live on a farm where they raise bison. It’s quickly apparent that Helen and Oddmund have a mutual attraction, but Au Pair International rules forbid sexual contact between family members and its au pairs.
Oddmund dispenses much needed discipline to Atticus, helps Beau stand up to the school bully, and brings laughter into the house. The boys teach Oddmund how to get bison to change paddocks, by yodeling at them! (As Atticus says, “Bison abhor yodeling.”) Helen’s smitten, and is egged on by Charlie, the ghost of her dead husband, who tells her to go for it. When she misinterprets Oddmund’s actions, she kisses him, only to be rebuffed.
Meanwhile, Oddmund builds Beau’s confidence by teaching him how to be a goalie, then recruits townspeople to make up a soccer team. A butch female sheriff, Missy, joins in. Then Katie, a hot senior signs up, which gets Atticus to join, who brings along his chess partner, 70 year-old Birger. Add Mary Kay, a Latino drag queen art teacher; Anna, a nude blonde art model; Bobbie the Neanderthal junior varsity football coach; and Helen, and he’s got a team.
At the annual Town Festival, Katie and Atticus get drunk. Oddmund tends to Atticus who’s throwing up in the men’s room. Helen finds them and falsely accuses Oddmund of taking advantage of her son. Ommund’s put in jail. Soon a Norwegian TV crew and the nasty Gudrun, Oddmund’s ex-fiance, show up, who’ve flown over to cover the story about a male au pair who has molested the children under his care. Finally, the boys and Helen’s own testimony clear his name.
Oddmund’s set to leave, but wants one more soccer practice with his team. They play against a real soccer team from Bethany College. Charlie appears and tells Helen that she will have a baby. She doesn’t believe it. Gudrun forces Oddmund to make a choice, come with her, or stay. You’ll have to see the movie to find out.
NOTE DI REGIA:
I first came to Lindsborg, Kansas when I was a senior at Kansas University, to do research on the artist Birger Sandzen. I instantly fell in love with this little Swedish town in the middle of Kansas, and was semiadopted by Sandzen’s daughter, Margaret and her husband Pelham Greenough, director of the Sandzen Memorial Art Gallery. I would later attend the funerals of these two wonderfully eclectic people at the beautiful Bethany Lutheran Church, where we shot the Saint Lucia’s festival footage that is used in the movie.
In the late 1980’s, I read a moving book by Lindsborg resident, Beverly Barbo, who, in the process of grieving for her son, wrote The Walking Wounded: A Mother’s True Story of Her Son’s Homosexuality and His Eventual AIDS Related Death. Lindsborg’s beauty, diversity, joy, tolerance, and life and death experiences would be imprinted on me. When I decided to write the script to AU PAIR, KANSAS (during my last semester in the MFA program in screenwriting at UCLA), I knew that I wanted to share the magic of Lindsborg with the rest of the world, and set the story there.
AU PAIR, KANSAS is my love letter to the people and town of Lindsborg, so rich in its Swedish history and culture. And what a great place to plop Oddmund, a Norwegian au pair (Sweden “won” Norway in the Napoleonic wars, and became independent from them in 1905. Norwegians weren’t thrilled to be ruled by Sweden.) Conflict is drama. I wrote the script for Håvard Lilleheie and Håvard is comedy. Conflict with Håvard is thus drama with comedy (hence the movie is a dramedy.)
The story is about finding love after loss. Each of the four main characters has their own way of coping. The amazing Traci Lords plays the mother, Helen, who has the hardest journey, and must overcome not only her husband’s death, but her anger at him.
The movie is dedicated to my father, Charles O’Neal. The character of the dead father, Charlie, represents both my father (who died of melanoma and had two sons) and me (who came close to marrying someone just to have kids.) The speeches Charlie gives to his sons on the tapes are basically stuff my father told me.
There is no way to direct an indie feature without the help of great talent and people who believe in the story. Everyone involved with the making of AU PAIR, KANSAS was passionate about this project. I hope it shows.
LE SPLENDIDE CANZONI DEL FILM:
“This Is Our Year”
Written and performed by Ariana Hall
“Love Is A Wonderful”
Written and performed by Ariana Hall
“Alive But Not Amused”
Written and performed by The Abalone Dots
“Min älskade”, “Lång Väg”, “Hedniska Dans”
Written and Performed by American Primitive
“Fantasy on Die Katzenpfote”
Written and Performed by Jed Smith