‘Undercurrent’ HBO Documentary Explores Story Behind The Murder Of Journalist Kim Wall


Undercurrent: The Disappearance of Kim Wall is a two-part documentary directed by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Erin Lee Carr (I Love You, Now Die; Britney vs. Spears), now streaming on HBO Max. The movie focuses on the lifetime of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who stepped into “eccentric” inventor Peter Madsen’s self-made submarine to interview him in Copenhagen and by no means returned. Components of her physique had been discovered within the following weeks. Madsen modified his story a number of occasions earlier than lastly admitting to the premeditated homicide of the younger journalist and to then dismembering her earlier than throwing her overboard. He was sentenced to life in jail.

Whereas Carr explores the previous of the remorseless Madsen, who was a minor superstar in Denmark, she chooses to focus extra on the life and prolific profession of Wall, who was solely 30 years previous on the time of her loss of life. After graduating from the distinguished Grasp’s Program at Columbia College’s College of Journalism, Wall established herself as an achieved journalist, writing items for The New York Instances, Harper’s, Vice and The Atlantic, amongst different shops. She was no stranger to the dangers concerned in being a feminine freelance journalist, having obtained hostile-environment coaching and traveled extensively for work.

Carr consists of interviews with individuals who knew Wall, trial footage and never-before-heard audio to depict the lifetime of a decided journalist simply attempting to do her job and grappling with sexism earlier than encountering a killer.

I spoke with Carr concerning the disturbing media protection of this case. We additionally mentioned the risks ladies journalists usually face, even in their very own backyards.

Risa Sarachan: What drew you to this story?

Erin Lee Carr: It’s a really haunting story, and it resonated with me on so many ranges. From Kim and her ambition, to the brutal crime and the misogyny that initiated it, I knew I needed to make a movie that tried to be a complete telling of what occurred, and my staff and I spent years determining the easiest way to try this.

Risa Sarachan: On the time this case was within the information, I didn’t notice how a lot misogyny and sufferer blaming performed into the best way the press dealt with it. Why do you assume that occurred?

Carr: I believe the best way the protection unfolded is a narrative as previous as time. When one thing occurs to a girl usually the primary query, consciously or unconsciously, is what did the girl do? How did she put herself at risk? How is she responsible for what occurred? When in fact, each in Kim’s story and in so many others, the girl did nothing. Peter Madsen took her as a result of he might, and she or he was there doing her job. We’ve a girl who’s silhouetted in our movie, who was an acquaintance of Peter Madsen’s, and she or he tells her story of when Peter invited her out on the submarine, however with out her boyfriend or youngsters. She had a foul intestine feeling, and didn’t go. Kim was a journalist with a job to do and didn’t, or couldn’t, essentially take heed to a foul intestine feeling, even when she had one.

Sarachan: What had been you stunned to study concerning the lifetime of Kim Wall?

Carr: So many issues stunned me about Kim, as I didn’t have the privilege of understanding her personally. She studied on the London College of Economics and attended the Columbia Journalism College and the Columbia College of Worldwide and Public Affairs. She was extremely brilliant and pushed.

We interviewed a professor of hers at Columbia, Professor Sandy Padwe, who shared a narrative about her tenacity and drive to report. Early within the semester, Kim determined to go all the way down to the crime scene of the 2012 Empire State Constructing taking pictures to ask questions, when one other pupil could have merely made a number of calls. She was the true deal, and will have gone far, and will have gone a lot farther.

Sarachan: Throughout the interviews within the movie, it’s introduced up greater than as soon as that Kim traveled to what had been thought of harmful locations for work and the irony that this might occur so near house. Why do you assume it is essential to notice this?

Carr: What it truly says is the alternative, that you just, as a girl, are usually not protected even in locations we think about protected areas. The truth that Kim acquired hostile setting coaching, exhibits her diligence in desirous to be protected whereas on the job, irrespective of the place she was. But it surely’s onerous to know when somebody is a predator when they’re appearing as a supply. It was clearly very painful for these near Kim that this crime was so near house, and additional highlights the hazard to ladies all over the place, that she was in her personal metropolis and down in a submarine that different journalists had gone on with no consequence. The sheer quantity of violence we face, even in conditions that wouldn’t be deemed unsafe, is sufficient to scare anybody. However this doesn’t make me really feel scared. It makes me offended. I’m offended that within the twenty first century, we nonetheless must be vigilant in each second, and even angrier that vigilance and preparedness aren’t sufficient when one thing, or somebody, strikes at random.

Sarachan: It’s referenced that oftentimes criminals like Madsen don’t simply strike as soon as and that he might presumably be liable for the disappearance of different ladies in Denmark. What are your ideas on that?

Carr: Primarily based on my previous work which entails investigating crime, violence, and the felony justice system, it’s onerous for me to imagine that such a brutal homicide may very well be Peter Madsen’s solely crime. In accordance with the conversations we have had with police, DNA hasn’t linked him to different crimes of this nature, however I do assume it’s very potential that sooner or later his DNA will likely be. And even after being convicted, he tried to flee from jail, which exhibits a degree of manipulation and narcissism that signifies to me that he isn’t carried out hurting folks but.

Sarachan: What do you hope this sequence brings to its viewers?

Carr: I make issues for folks to really feel, to assume, to grasp, and to return into contact with their very own humanity and humanity in others. I need folks to acknowledge the unbelievable life Kim led and the way we as a society perhaps failed her by not seeing behind the masks hiding the psychopathy of Peter Madsen. I particularly needed to offer audiences a deep dive into the trial itself, as a result of in Denmark you may lie on the stand, so it’s nonetheless unclear whether or not or not we’ve got really appeared Peter Madsen’s true evil within the face.

Sarachan: What are you engaged on subsequent?

Carr: Extra multitasking! I’ve the privilege of working intently with HBO and I hope to proceed to create nuanced, female-centric, and socially vital work with them. I can flip any dialog into one about feminism.

Undercurrent: The Disappearance of Kim Wall is out now on HBO and will likely be obtainable to stream on HBO Max.

A hyperlink to Kim Wall’s Memorial Fund may be discovered right here.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.


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