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Vanessa McMahon


Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)

 


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Interview with Filmmaker Mika Kaurismäki on THE GIRL KING (2015)

 

THE GIRL KING A film by Mika KaurismäkiThe Girl King (2015)

Canadian writer Michel Marc Bouchard (Tom at the Farm, Lilies) and Norwegian born Brazilian raised filmmaker Mika Kaurismäki (The Liar - 1980, Zombie and the Ghost Train - 1991, Three Wise Men – 2008, Road North - 2012, Homecoming - 2015) have paired up for The Girl King (2015). The film tells the story of one of the most controversial female rulers in the history of Europe, Sweden’s queen Kristina. Kristina became queen at the young age of six in the year 1632. At her birth, her parents thought she was a boy for the first hour of her life, and even when they discovered she was a girl, they raised her as a prince. Kristina lived her life a tomboy always wearing trousers and playing little boy games. As an adult she struggled with her female sexuality, having always seeing herself as male, and her polemical desire for women.

As queen, not only did Kristina raise contention in court as a known lesbian through her passionate love for young Ebba Sparre, she had modernist ideas of free will, sparked by her admiration for French philosopher René Descartes. A woman far ahead of her time, she was largely disputed and misunderstood by her conventional contemporaries and is regarded in history as a questionable and revolutionary figure. In The Girl King, Kaurismaki blends history, psychology, intrigue, drama and modernism into a rich and stunning filmic painting set in the 17th century for the tastes of today’s audience. It’s a vanguard masterpiece not to be missed.

The film is a co-production between Finland / Canada / Germany / Sweden and stars newcomer Malin Buska as ‘Kristina’ in an electrifying performance alongside Sarah Gadon (Belle, Enemy, Cosmopolis, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Dracula Untold), Michael Nyqvist (Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Lucas Bryant (Haven, The Vow), Laura Birn (Purge, Inner Trial) and Martina Gedeck (Night Train to Lisbon, The Nun, The Lives of Others).

THE GIRL KING A film by Mika Kaurismäki

In an interview with Kaurismaki, here is what he had to say about his film, The Girl King.

VM: I saw your beautiful film. Can you tell us about the background of ‘King Kristina’?

MIKA: It wasn’t my idea. A producer asked me if I’d like to make a film about Kristina. I already knew quite a lot about her. In school, all my teachers would tell stories about King Kristina so I always had in my mind that it was a great story. When I was asked to direct the film, I didn’t want to make a history film, I wanted it to be very modern, which wasn’t easy to make. I think of Kristina as being a very modern young woman who was trying to figure out what to do.

VM: Why was she king and not queen?

MIKA: They were waiting for a son and when she was born she was very hairy. Everyone thought she was a boy for the first hour and said “oh a boy is born!”. So it was only an hour later they found out she wasn’t a boy. She was raised more as a boy and when she was young she went running around in trousers playing more like a boy than a little girl. She wore trousers all the time in the court. My idea was to concentrate on the years from when she turned 18 and becomes the queen until she turned 28 when she had to subjugate, which were very turbulent years for her. There are three different themes like the love story with Ebba Sparre, her relationship with philosopher René Descartes and the relationship with the establishment and her father figure.

VM: You said it was difficult to produce. How long did the film take to make?

MIKA: Yes, it was very difficult to produce. Finding the balance for the screenplay was very complicated. Also, I come from a small country and we don’t have money to produce these kinds of films so you have to go out and look for the money, which is never easy. If it had been about a male king it might have been easier to find the money but a female lead in this kind of role was difficult.

VM: How does Scandinavia view same sex relations today?

MIKA: They are sort of liberal democratic. I think Kristina was very controversial because she betrayed her father’s faith so for a lot of time they didn’t say a lot about her. There are a lot of books, exhibitions and adapted theater plays. My film was the first after the Hollywood film about her in the 30’s, which didn’t go anywhere. I think the reason is because it’s a controversial story because she was a very liberal modern woman.

VM: It’s interesting you chose to film it in English. Did you do this to hit an international audience?

MIKA: In the old times they used to speak French in the Swedish courts so since English is now the modern English I have them all speaking English in their own accents.

VM: Your tie in with philosopher Descartes is interesting. Can you explain how that played into the mentality of the time?

MIKA: Descartes had this idea of free will, which was very revolutionary and it was a shock for them, for the establishment, for the Catholic and Protestant church. The idea that a human being has free will and not everything is written in the Bible. That was very revolutionary. When Kristina knew about that she got very interested by it and invited him to Sweden. Some say she died of pneumonia and others say she died of poison because of Descartes’ new ideas. She was always a very devoted Catholic but became a revolutionary, also very curious about alchemy and all of these kinds of things. So the idea of free will is what unites Kristina and Descartes.

VM: How was it working with the cast? Malin, Sarah and Michael?

MIKA: It was great! For me, the best part of it is working with the actors. I didn’t know Malin before. She had done only one film before mine but when I saw that little film, I felt she could be the queen. When I went to Stockholm to meet her, I had my doubts that she knew anything about Kristina. It turned out that Malin’s mother and grandmother were big Kristina fans so she had grown up hearing stories about her. So, she knew the part well. Of course Michael Nyqvist and Sarah Gadon were great cast.

VM: Looking at your history of films, you have made a number of films with Brazil. How hard is it to live and make films in Brazil?

MIKA: Well, I live in Bahia, Brazil and I have been in the country close to 35 years. The films I make outside of Brazil, I finance outside. Inside of Brazil I have only made some documentaries, but I am working on a fiction project now will be a Brazilian film but normally I film in Europe.

VM: What is your next project?

MIKA: I am working on a few projects right now because you never know which one will green light. I have a project in Finland, one here in Brazil, one in Germany and one in US. So, I am waiting to see what’s going to get the finances first.

VM: Can you say something about the Finnish film industry?

MIKA: Finland is very small but now that Finnish people want to watch Finnish films, so theses films are in now. I think we have the highest rate in Europe of people watching their own films; our language is so special. When you do a Finnish speaking film it’s very difficult for it to travel outside of festivals. A mainstream film in Finland is called an art-house film outside of Finland because of the language.

VM: Well, now you’re shooting your films in multiple languages. Your film is stunning so I hope you have a lot of success internationally!

MIKA: Thank you!

Interview and intro by Vanessa McMahon; posted December 9, 2015

 

The film had a limited theatrical release in Los Angeles, San Francisco and has now been released internationally by Wolfe Video on DVD and VOD. 

Directed and Produced by: Mika Kaurismäki Written by: Michel Marc Bouchard Principal Cast: Malin Buska, Sarah Gadon, Michael Nyqvist, Lucas Bryant, Laura Birn, HIppolyte Girardot, Peter Lohmeyer, François Arnaud, Patrick Bauchah, Martina Gedeck

Best Actress Award - Malin Buska, 2015 Montreal Film Festival; Audience Award, 2015 Montreal Film Festival

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Finnish born, Brazilian-based filmmaker Mika Kaurismäki burst onto the international art house scene in 1980 with his debut feature The Liar. It marked the beginning of the cinema of the Kaurismäki brothers and started a new era in Finnish cinema. Since then he has made over 30 international feature films and documentaries across many genres and language, including Zombie and the Ghost Train (1991), Three Wise Men (2008) and Road North (2012), and the recent Finnish comedy Homecoming (2015). He has worked with a variety of top European and American talent, including Julie Delpy, Johnny Depp, Robert Davi, Jürgen Prochnow and Henry Thomas. Kaurismäki, together with his acclaimed filmmaker brother Aki, founded the production company Villealfa Filmproductions, a haven for creative filmmaking in Europe.

SYNOPSIS: This 17th-century drama recounts the life of Sweden's Queen Kristina, an enigmatic, flamboyant, and unpredictable woman centuries ahead of her time who ascended the throne at age six, was raised as a prince, and strived to bring peace and education to her country-while pursuing an illicit romance with her female royal attendant. Growing up as a tomboy with a strong intellectual appetite, young Kristina (an electric Malin Buska) finds herself thrown into a political frenzy as a teenager. Saddled with the Thirty Years War between Protestants and Catholics, Kristina steers her country away from the conservatives while privately grappling with her own sexual awakening, inthe form of Countess Ebba Sparre (the radiant Sarah Gadon), her lovely lady-in-waiting. Her quest to understand love runs parallel with her quest to understand humanity and the violent and restrictive forces conspiring against her. Torn between the conflict of political and personal aspirations, Kristina chooses to make one of the most controversial decisions in history.

ABOUT WOLFE VIDEO: Founded in 1985 and now celebrating 30 years as the largest exclusive distributor of lesbian, gay, bi and transgender (LGBT) films, Wolfe's release slate includes some of the most popular LGBT films of 2015, including the Swiss Oscar and Golden Globes submission The Circle; the gorgeous lesbian romantic drama by renowned Venezuelan director Fina Torres, Liz in September; and the epic international production by Finland's Mika Kaurasmäki, The Girl King. In 2016, Wolfe's releases will include the Thai Oscar submission How To Win at Checkers (Every Time). Wolfe's library of beloved modern classics includes such acclaimed hits as Cloudburst, Undertow, Desert Hearts and Big Eden. Wolfe's complete motion picture library can be found at WolfeVideo.com as well as at national retailers such as Netflix, Amazon and VOD destinations such as Comcast, Time Warner, Hulu, iTunes and WolfeOnDemand.com. Find more info online at http://www.wolfevideo.com.

 

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