‘Handling the Undead’ Director Thea Hvistendahl on the Patience To Face Your Nightmares


This post is by Nicco Valenzuela from No Film School

How do we deal with losing someone we love? Is it even possible to move on? These questions are explored in Handling the Undead, a film that meditates on topics such as grief and loss and the impossible wish of wanting the past to become the present. Handling the Undead, which is based on the best-selling Norwegian novel of the same name, premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

In today’s episode, No Film School’s GG Hawkins, speaks with Director Thea Hvistendahl to discuss:

  • Thea’s feelings and thoughts post premiere
  • Having the sound and images tell the story as opposed to dialogue
  • Her approach to directing and staging actors
  • Using a mix of real people, prosthetics, VFX, and dolls
  • Finding the balance between looking dead but not like zombies
  • The challenges in shooting the final scene
  • How Thea became a filmmaker
  • Financing the feature and shooting in multiple countries
  • Getting the balance right between the different stories within the film
  • Feeling anxious during the screening process
  • Trusting her gut feelings in the editing process
  • Having a much needed celebration when the film was finally finished

No Film School’s coverage of Sundance 2024 is brought to you by Canon.