Directed by Anja Salomonowitz
This year’s festival is subtitled Past/Present and is particularly interested in looking at the ways in which women filmmakers reveal how the past has shaped the present. Would you say today’s challenges and obstacles for women filmmakers have changed? And how do you think the situation in your country is in particular when compared to other countries?
I think the situation for woman filmmakers in general is difficult: to be accepted by a man’s world. Here in Austria there are many woman filmmakers but many also claim about the bad conditions.
Why are you a filmmaker and how does working with film help you tell your story?
Making movies was, and is, the only thing I wanted to do. It makes me happy, full, and live worth it. Besides my family 🙂
In your film, the testimonies of women who have experienced human trafficking are told by non-actors filmed in their work place and who could have witnessed such tragedy. Why was it important for you to create this kind of mise-en-scene ?
There are three documentary layers in the movie: the stories of the woman are true, the people who tell the stories are amateur actors in their real lives and, most important, the places where it could have happened are real: the border is real, the brothel is real and also the diplomatic household. So these three documentary layers are mixed together and they give something new.
Normally when you see a documentary about trafficking in woman, the woman tells her story and she cries. She has this black thing over her eyes etc. What you feel is that you pity her. I wanted to take away the pity from the woman – and talk about the things they need. They do not need pity, they need to have rights. A different law situation concerning migration as it is now.
So I separated the stories from the woman to give a look on the pure stories themselves. On the conditions that make them happen.
I was certainly concerned with questioning prevalent documentary methods. Does the victim always have to tell their own story? On the other hand, can someone else recite the story but nevertheless still communicate something of the person? I am concerned with this grey area.
Was it difficult to persuade the protagonists to take part in the film? Were they afraid of being connected with human trafficking?
To find the amateur actors was for sure a big part. We made a long street casting to find them. When someone was found, I accompanied them in their all day life for days, months and years.
And then I rehearsed with them very, very much.
The diplomatic woman I asked again before we shot: are you really sure you want to do this? And she said yes. But for sure it was not easy for them.
They had to deal with these stories, to think about them, to connect them with their own life. This was part of our work. But they were not afraid of being connected with human trafficking because they knew they are doing something against it.
How or where did you find the stories of the women?
The stories are based on true stories, on interviews. They come lefö, an ngo in Vienna who works in the field of trafficking woman, and also from women themselves. It was agreed with lefö that the women should not be able to be identified. It deals with real, exemplary narratives from specific areas in which trafficking in women takes place such as where women are sold into prostitution or, for example, where they have to work, effectively as slaves, in diplomatic households.
Could you choose your favorite scene in your film or an anecdote related to it and tell us what you particularly like about it?
I am often asked if the waiter really hurts his head in this scene or if he plays it…yes, he plays it. While I was rehearsing with this people I asked everything very exactly: how do you start work every day, where do you give the ashes etc. While we were doing this he was awkward, he often hurt himself. So I wrote it back in the script and he also had to do it while we shot.