Plotoutline

16 year-old Lilya lives in a poor and dreary suburb somewhere in the former Soviet Union. She dreams of a better life. Her mother has moved to the States with a new man and Lilya is waiting to be sent for. When no letters or money arrive from her mother, it bescomes obvious that Lilya has been abandoned. She´s forced to move into a tiny, run-down flat with no electricity or heating. Heartbroken and without money, Lilya´s situation becomes desperate. Her only friend is the 11 year-old boy Volodya. They hang around together and fantasize to make life a little easier.

 


Lilja 4-ever (2002)

Written and Directed by
Lukas Moodysson

Genre: Drama

Also Known As:
Lilja 4ever (2002) (Sweden: alternative spelling)
Lilya 4-Ever (2002) (International: English title)
MPAA: Rated R for strong sexual content, a rape scene, drug use and language.
Runtime: 109 min
Country: Denmark / Sweden
Language: German / Swedish / English / Russian
Color: Color
Sound Mix: DTS / Dolby Digital
Certification: Finland:K-15 / Norway:15 / Sweden:15 / Switzerland:16 (canton of Geneva) / Switzerland:16 (canton of Vaud) / UK:18 / USA:R

Cast (in credits order)
Oksana Akinshina .... Lilya
Artyom Bogucharsky .... Volodya
Lyubov Agapova .... Lilya's Mother
Liliya Shinkaryova .... Aunt Anna
Elina Benenson .... Natasha
Pavel Ponomaryov .... Andrei
Tomas Neumann .... Witek
Anastasiya Bedredinova .... Neighbor
Tõnu Kark .... Sergei
Nikolai Bentsler .... Natasha's Boyfriend
Aleksander Dorosjkevitch .... Friend #1
Jevgeni Gurov .... Friend #2
Aleksandr Sokolenko .... Friend #3
Margo Kostelina .... Cashier #1
Veronika Kovtun .... Cashier #2
Jelena Jakovlena .... Teacher
Tamara Solodnikova .... Social Worker
Nikolai Kutt .... Man on the bridge
Oleg Rogatchov .... Natasha's dad
Aleksander Okunev .... Volodya's dad
Herardo Kontreras .... Anna's neighbour
Madis Kalmet .... Man in hotel room
Bo Christer Hjelte .... Lonely man
Sten Erici .... BMW-man

Produced by
Gunnar Carlsson .... co-producer
Tomas Eskilsson .... co-producer
Malte Forsell .... line producer
Peter Aalbæk Jensen .... co-producer
Lars Jönsson .... producer
Peeter Urbla .... associate producer

Original Music by
Nathan Larson

Cinematography by
Ulf Brantås

Film Editing by
Michal Leszczylowski
Oleg Morgunov
Bernhard Winkler

Casting by
Jesper Kurlandsky

Art Direction by
Josefin Åsberg

Costume Design by
Denise Östholm

Makeup Department
Jessica Cederholm .... makeup designer

Production Management

Anna Malini Ahlberg .... production manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Alexandra Dahlström .... assistant director
Malin Fornander .... first assistant director

Sound Department

Niclas Merits .... sound

Other crew

Anna Knochenhauer .... assistant to producer

Production Companies

Det Danske Filminstitut [dk]
Film i Väst [se]
Memfis Film Rights AB [se]
Nordisk Film & TV-Fond [dk/no/se/fi/is]
Svenska Filminstitutet (SFI) [se]
Sveriges Television (SVT) [se] (SVT Göteborg)
Zentropa Entertainments [dk]
Distributors
A-Film Distribution [nl]
Haut et Court [fr] (France)
Newmarket Film Group [us] (2003, USA, subtitled)
Sandrew Metronome
Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland [fi]
Sonet Film [se]
Trust Film Sales [dk]

 

 

 

Lukas made this movie when he heard of the death of Dangoule

The French Poster of Lilya 4-ever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEWS and Interviews

Back
Review 1 (in English)
Review 2 (in English)
Interview (in German)
Review (in German)
Interview with Ulf Brantås
Review Financial Times
Interview 28-11-2002

 

Link to the movie on MovieMeter (Dutch).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2003 FisherKing - version 1.0

 

 

 

FILM REVIEW


Lilya 4-Ever


Director Lukas Moodysson
Writer Lukas Moodysson
Stars Oksana Akinshina, Artiom Bogucharskij, Pavel Ponomarev, Elina Beninson, Ljubov Agapova
Running time 105 minutes
Country Sweden
Year 2002
Reviewed by Rebort

Mein Herz Brennt ("My Heart Burns") roars the vocalist on the thrash-garage opening soundtrack setting the tone for Swedish director Lukas Moodysson's angry, empassioned cry from the heart. Moodysson, who has already distinguished himself with humourous, social commentary pieces such as coming-of-age comedy Fucking Amal and commune satire Together pulls no punches in this unmitigatedly bleak view of teenagers growing up in the former Soviet Union.

Even the title is laced with acerbic irony - Lilya (Oksana Akinshina), the sixteen-year-old girl at the centre of the film, is shown in the first scene about to throw herself off a road bridge into the path of passing cars. The rest of the film charts how she got to this point.

Teenage angst seems magnified tenfold in this place described at the opening only as "somewhere that was once the former Soviet Union". After her mother abandons her to emmigrate to America, the grief-stricken Lilya finds that she must fend for herself. Although spirited (when she is scrawling "Lilya 4-Ever" on a park bench a bunch of boys are running to beat her up) she is too young and ill-equiped to avoid the pitfalls of a dog-eat-dog society. Prostitution is easy, glue-sniffing the norm, family means nothing, fellow teens are vicious, and foreigners are exploitative. The buildings are crumbling or deserted, the wallpaper soiled and the fabric of society has been shredded. No wonder everyone wants to get the hell out.

The film has a startling authenticity, but Moodysson avoids totally overwhelmingly us with grimness thanks to Oksana Akinshina's revelatory performance as the determined and optimistic Lilya and Artyom Bogucharsky as the cocky young boy, Volodja, who she forms a big-sister friendship with. Moodysson also keeps the story rolling along, offering music montages and flashes of magic realism to balance out the dark mood. Not a film that you sit down to enjoy, but one that provides a welcome battering ram against cosy notions of the caring capitalism of the West.


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The film "Lilja 4-ever"

Yvonne Honkanen, October 2002

Lukas Moodysson is the most successful Swedish film maker of the last few years. He is well-known of several "hit" films which have been huge success stories all over the world. His debut "Fucking Emel" was a roaring success among the critics as well as the audience. Moodyssons next film was a dive down in the 70's with "Together" and it became even a greater success. In Sweden, 880 000 people bought a ticket to the cinema. With above-mentioned figures in mind, one can confirm that the interest in Moodysson’s "Lilja 4-ever" is great - not to say huge - is no exaggeration.

Film director: Lukas Moodysson
Casting: Oksana Akinsjina, Artiom Bogutjarskij, Ljubov Agapova, Lilija Sjinkarjova, Elina Benenson, Pavel Ponomarjov, Tomas Neumann
Length: 1 hour 49 minutes

Plot Summary:

Lilja 4 -ever is shot on location in Estonian Paldiski and Tallinn, and in the film studios of Film i Väst in Trollhättan. It is based on an original script by Lukas Moodysson and is spoken in two languages. The budget is almost 30 million kronor, compared to "Fucking Emels" 10 million and "Togethers" 20 million.

The film tells about a Russian girl named Lilja. She is alone, without money and has been abandoned by her mother, who went to America with her new love. 16 years old Lilja lives in a worn out and poor suburb somewhere in what once was the Soviet Union. Her only friend is the young boy Volodja. Together they hang around in the area, fantasizing about how to make life easier to live. One day a spark of hope arrives when Lilja falls in love with Andrej. He asks her to follow him to Sweden where they can start a new life. But Andrej is lying when saying that a better life and a brighter future is waiting for her in a foreign country. She travels to Sweden with a false passport, without money, without anything. Just hoping for a better future. But everything is totally different than what she has been promised. She is forced to sell the only what is left or her, besides the hope – herself, her body. She is forced to work as a "sex slave" in the streets, being used by men. Her life turns even more into a nightmare.

Lilja 4-ever affects the audience. A call to do something. This is actually happening to young girls from other countries, right now here in Sweden. The film has a clear message about why you should not commit suicide no matter how much people spit on you. But still, Lilja‘s and Volodja’s only comfort is the hope of a better life after this. For a long time she carries her christian picture with her to pray. But who will hear a pray?

This summary is partially based on extracts taken from "Lilja 4-ever" on http://www.moviemeter.nl.

http://valhalla.norden.org/eng/info_uk/projects_uk/medier_uk/lilja.html


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Interview

Lukas Moodysson zu Lilja 4-ever [ 09/2002 ]


Nach seinen klugen Komödien Raus aus Åmål und !Zusammen! ist für Schwedens Regie-Liebling Lukas Moodysson Schluss mit lustig: Lilja 4-ever ist ein schonungsloser Blick auf die knallharte Realität Jugendlicher in der ehemaligen UdSSR. Gini Brenner traf Moodysson in Venedig.

SKIP: In deinen bisherigen Filmen hast du die Probleme deiner Protagonisten vor allem auf liebevoll-komische Art behandelt. Lilja 4-ever ist alles andere als eine Komödie, es gibt keine Witze, keine Hoffnung. Was hat dich zu diesem doch sehr mutigen Schritt in die totale Ernsthaftigkeit bewogen?

Lukas Moodysson: Das war keine bewusste Entscheidung. Es ist einfach passiert. Ich habe den ganzen Film nie geplant – plötzlich wusste ich einfach, dass ich ihn machen muss. Ich finde allerdings nicht, dass Lilja 4-ever ein hoffnungsloser Film ist. Am Schluss steht die Gewissheit, dass alles anders werden kann, wenn man selber etwas verändert – oft nur eine Kleinigkeit. Und dazu soll mein Film ja auch auffordern. Es geht hier nicht nur um die Nachwirkungen des Zerfalls eines Weltreiches, sondern vor allem darum, wie Menschen zunehmend als Ware betrachtet werden, etwas, was man kaufen und verkaufen kann.

SKIP: Du siehst Lilja 4-ever also nicht nur als Kunstwerk, sondern vor allem als Mittel, um eine Botschaft zu transportieren?

Lukas Moodysson: Dieser Film geht über die Frage der Qualität hinaus. Viele Menschen haben zu mir gesagt: "Dein Film hat mir zwar nicht besonders gefallen – aber die Situation ist unerträglich. Da muss man etwas tun!" Mein besonderes Anliegen wäre ja, dass man Lilja 4-ever auch in den Ländern der ehemaligen UdSSR sehen kann. Egal ob im Kino oder auf einem raubkopierten Videotape. Und wenn dann ein einziges Mädchen misstrauisch wird, wenn ihr jemand vom Traumjob im Westen erzählt, dann hat er seinen Zweck erfüllt.

SKIP: Mit Lilja 4-ever hast du ja nicht nur erstmals außerhalb Schwedens gedreht, sondern auch in russischer Sprache.

Lukas Moodysson: Das Drehbuch habe ich in Schwedisch geschrieben, dann übersetzen lassen und dann mit Russisch sprechenden Freunden überarbeitet. Am Set war auch immer ein Dolmetscher dabei. Das ergab zwar oft Kommunikationsschwierigkeiten – aber gerade die haben oft geholfen, die richtige Atmosphäre des Films herzustellen.

SKIP: Gedreht hast du hauptsächlich in Estland ...

Lukas Moodysson: Weil dort die nötige Infrastruktur am ehesten vorhanden war. Ich wäre ja viel lieber nach Russland gegangen. Ich bin nämlich geradezu besessen von allem Russischen. Als Kind habe ich bei den Eishockey-Weltmeisterschaften immer zum russischen Team gehalten und nicht zum schwedischen. Das war damals ein unerhörtes Sakrileg. Ein großer Traum von mir wäre ein russisches Remake eines meiner Filme (grinst).

SKIP: Ich habe gehört, dass die Rechte für das Remake deines Spielfilm-Debüts Raus aus Åmål in die USA verkauft wurden, stimmt das?

Lukas Moodysson: Wir verhandeln noch. Ich habe ja schon alle möglichen Angebote bekommen, auch aus Deutschland oder Holland. Nur wenige sind wirklich interessant. Das schrägste war ein Angebot für ein Remake meiner Hippie-Kommunen-Komödie !Zusammen! – auf Thai. Das würde ich echt gerne sehen.

http://www.kino.at/A/stars/interviews/interview_viennale02.php?intnr=246


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Lukas Moodysson: Mit „Lilya“ sogar Oscar-Chancen

Der Schwede Lukas Moodysson überraschte schon beim Filmfest in Venedig mit seinem Drama „Lilya 4-ever“, das jetzt bei der Viennale zu sehen ist. Moodysson wurde durch seinen Debütfilm „Raus aus Amal - Fucking Amal“ (1998) schlagartig bekannt und entwickelte sich zum Garant für hohe Besucherzahlen in den Kinos. Diesen Erfolg konnte er sowohl mit „Zusammen“ (2000) als auch mit „Lilya 4-ever“ wiederholen.

Moodyssons „Lilya 4-ever“ erzählt das Drama der 16-jährigen Russin Lilya, deren Mutter nach Amerika auswandert und die, alleingelassen, ums Überleben in der tristen Realität des postkommunistischen Russland kämpfen muss. Ihr Traum: Amerika. Ihr Weg: Sex für Geld. Reiche Herren, viele über 50, bedienen sich Lilyas jungem Körper nach Belieben. Doch was immer Lilya auch macht, sie scheint in ihrer trostlosen Heimat gefangen. Bis sie schließlich die Möglichkeit hat, nach Schweden auszuwandern.

„Lilya 4-ever“ bedient sich einer durchaus banalen und vorhersehbaren Film-sprache und -konstruktion, sein Konzept, einen Leidensweg eines Kinderschick-sals im heutigen Russland zu zeigen, geht aber auf: Selten wurde das Thema Kinderprostitution offensiver thematisiert. Moodysson geht mit den Themen Mädchenhandel und Kinderprostitution gänzlich unspekulativ um. Getragen wird der Film durch eine unglaublich talentierte Hauptdarstellerin: Oksana Akinshina. Die 15-jährige Schülerin aus St. Petersburg eroberte die Kritiker mit ihrem beeindruckenden Spiel im Sturm und darf als große Entdeckung gelten.

„Lilya 4-ever“ darf nun doch als schwedischer Beitrag zum Auslandsoscar 2003 eingereicht werden. Ursprünglich gab es Probleme, da der Film überwiegend in russisch gehalten ist, während man bestenfalls im Hintergrund schwedische Stimmen hört. Doch bei genauerer Prüfung widersprach das nicht dem Academy-Reglement, weil der Film mit Regisseur Moodysson eindeutig eine schwedische Produktion ist. „Lilya“ hat also sogar Oscar-Chancen.
http://www.cineplexx.at/arthouse/Art_sub_Viennal_Ta10.asp


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Interview with Swedish Director of Photography, Ulf Brantås,

Swedish Director of Photography, Ulf Brantås, FSF, firmly believes in taking chances. In 1982, as an advertising copywriter turned professional musician, he became Production Assistant at Roy Andersson Film Co. and started working with its respected Director. "Until that time, I'd had no experience with films, but Roy Andersson owned all his equipment and I had the chance to find out about cameras, lighting gear and dollies," says Brantås. "I was intrigued to know how these expensive items worked, so in the evenings I'd open the various lids and compartments and I taught myself. I was sent off to shoot some documentary footage before I'd had any experience of operating a camera, but I took the chance. Likewise, in Lilja 4-ever, I tried to do things I'd never done before; that's the fun part of working with Director, Lukas Moodysson - he tells unusual stories in unusual ways."

Lilja 4-ever, the third feature film on which Moodysson and Brantås have collaborated, is a drama about two Russian children, an elevenyear-old boy and fourteen-year-old Lilja. Set in the former Soviet Union, the story focuses on the tensions and hostility the children experience and their longing for a better life elsewhere. The nine week shoot, half of which took place at night, included four weeks filming in and around stairwells in a group of rough apartment blocks in Estonia; other exteriors were shot in Malmö and the two main apartments were constructed in a studio in Trollhattan, western Sweden.

Zeiss high-speed lenses were fitted on the Aaton XTR (Prod), but no correction filters - not even 85 for outdoors. "We'd tested 16mm Kodak Vision 800T (7289), Kodak Vision 500T (7279) and Kodak Vision 200T (7274) under special conditions and in extremely low light levels, even shooting closely in a car at night with no light at all and decided to go for 200T, not 800T as I would have expected. The stock was excellent and gave us a good exposed negative for the final blow up to 35mm," remarks Brantås.

"Lukas's way of shooting is pretty much unrehearsed and we don't know what will happen in a scene until the actors appear. He wants to have the camera rolling on the first take and likes to get as close to reality as possible with minimal lighting. The average time he gives me for rigging a scene is twenty minutes, with just ten minutes for lighting. He likes me to figure out the technical aspects, so I spoil him and always have several plans to cover all eventualities."

"Lukas wanted to have the option to do ramping at almost any time and at the apartment blocks in Estonia we ramped from a dialogue scene of 24 fps up to 75 fps which was a bit tricky on the 16mm camera because of the need to change the iris. We also found out the hard way that Estonian electrical current is not completely stable because we ended up with some flickering which had to be digitally corrected."

Brantås used mainly practical lights on the apartment set, with just a few Kino Flos on the ceiling; the main light came from the window. "When the actors moved away from the window, we used a Joker Bug with a tungsten bulb on the dimmer and kept it out of frame, but even if the actors were quite a distance away, we still got a good negative. Joker Bugs were mainly used for night exteriors on location with a greenish filter added to match the existing Estonian streetlights. When moving into the set, we had to use the same light spilling in through the windows and curtains of the apartment sets, as some scenes were supposed to be lit by only one or two candles. When we lit the area of a football field with only three or four Joker Bugs, I wondered whether the shots would work, but they did - and we got detail."

Much of the shooting of Lilja 4-ever involved handheld shots, so Brantås, a tall man, decided to use an alternative camera position to save constantly adapting his own height to that of the child actors. He took handles from an ARRI 435, screwed them into the small holes on the XTR base and cut a plate from a video camera so the XTR could be housed on the two bars. "I was able to use my arms and hold the camera like a machine gun," he says. Brantås also helped build a rickshaw with wheels from a mountain bike and fitted a rearward-facing seat, which proved ideal for 500 metre tracking shots of the youngsters as they walked and ran.

"Shooting without filters overexposed the blue layer of the stock and emphasized the cold and unfriendly locations, although we graded it back at Filmteknik for a slightly warmer effect," recalls Brantås. "When Filmteknik made the duplicate negative, the warmer tones and hues got added in a sort of backwards way. I'm extremely pleased with the 35mm print and the well-experienced grader, Sten Lindberg, was amazed with the result. It's very hard to tell that it was shot on 16mm."

"This was probably the hardest and mentally most tiring shoot I've ever done: the story is very moving, the locations were cramped and difficult, the winter weather was terrible, the night exteriors were very tricky and there was so much handheld camera work. But it's all turned out very well, not only technically, but story wise and emotionally too. The experience will benefit me greatly."

Lilja 4-ever is a Memfis Film AB Production, in association with Zentropa Entertainments APS, Film I VfST, Sveriges Television Göteborg and Nordisk Film & TV Fond. It was financed by Svenska Filminstitutet and Danska Filminstitutet.

 


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Lilya 4-ever is dedicated to "the children around the world exploited by the sex trade" and shares an executive producer with Dancing in the Dark, which should warn you, even though director Lukas Moodysson has shown a feelgood touch elsewhere. Lilya is a pretty 16-year-old in a run-down Russian suburb - is there any other sort? - that makes our sink estates look like Belgravia. Abandoned by her mother, she drifts into prostitution, is raped by local thugs, and flown to Sweden ostensibly for a job and a boyfriend only to find herself a pimp's prisoner. The unremitting grimness is redeemed by the basic goodness - an odd word, but in keeping with the director's basic religious convictions - of Lilya herself and her confidant, a homeless boy who returns to chat to her, complete with feathery wings, after his suicide. The crashing brutalism of Scandi-heavy metal Rammstein opens and closes the movie mercilessly; but neither the cruelty nor the religiosity detracts from a haunting experience, thanks mainly to the teenage players Oksana Akinshina and Artiom Bogucharski, uncute, exasperating and vulnerable.

Financial Times 24-04-2003

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Lukas Moodysson talks to Danny Leigh about shooting in the former USSR and takes questions from the audience

Wednesday November 20, 2002

DL: What were your feelings about the collapse of the USSR?

LM: I am not nostalgic about the political system. For example, when we made the scene in the submarine base they had just had a big celebration for people who had worked there before. It was not political. It was just that this had been their way of life and now their lives had been ruined. I can relate to that but I don't want a return to the Soviet system. One of the ironies and tragedies of history is that those societies that were raped by Soviet communism are now being raped by capitalism. It is like double abuse. The fact now is that we are rich and they are poor. We have some things that they don't have. And that is wrong. And I think it is very important not to blame the victims but to blame the people who are doing these bad things. I think we must take responsibility for what is happening in Eastern Europe. Sorry, I keep talking about responsibility. But this is where the demand exists. This is where they are sold and abused. I think that the main reason for trafficking is economic injustices of the world. I don't think that the problem can be solved without major social, economic, cultural and political revolution. I think the world will explode if that doesn't happen soon.

DL: Can you see that happening?

LM: Yes, I can. Everything is difficult but everything is possible. You just have to look at how fast things in the world change. A very bad catastrophe in every way happened with the Twin Towers but it was interesting that everything changed in the world in two minutes. I believe that it is possible to change the world in a positive way in two minutes. I am not sure exactly how or in what direction. But I do think it's possible.

DL: I am now going to open it up to questions from the audience.

Q: I am interested in your work with handheld cameras but wonder if you would like to move into the more formally composed work of people like Kubrick?

LM: I would like to move in many different directions. So far it has been a matter of creating a visual style that works both on a visual level but also in a way that allows freedom for the actors. I think that acting is more important than the camera. I am not saying that it is always like that but it is with the films that I have made so far. I also think that my visual style has changed from film to film. That is something that I work rather intuitively on with my photographer. It is quite hard to answer questions about why we made certain decisions. It is quite abstract and a bit mysterious for me.

Q: How does your work fit into the Swedish tradition?

LM: I am more inspired by things other than films. As a film director, I am more inspired by things that happen in reality, books that I read or music. As a human being I am quite inspired by films. I like films that make me question my life. But as a film-maker I am not sure I have really dealt with being a part or not being part of the Swedish tradition of film-making. There were some things that happened in Sweden in the 70s that I liked. But I am not sure how I fit into a tradition. One thing that could be specifically Swedish is the idea of taking children seriously in the movies and of taking children's movies seriously. It doesn't mean that the films are good but I do think there is an attempt to take them seriously.

Q: How hard is it for actors to keep a level of realism, while sticking to the script?

LM: For me it is very important to find the right actors. When I have found the right actors I must know that they can connect with the character. When I know that I can relax and trust them, and they can trust me. I don't like rehearsal and things like that. I just let them say what they are meant to say.

Q: What are the differences between directing children and adults?

LM: I am personally more nervous directing adults. I am not saying that they are more difficult but I am more nervous about it. Some professional actors have worked a bit too much, which makes them more sure about their methods. They are not all like that but some of them are. I also think that, going back to the Lego thing, some actors build their characters so that they don't break and are symmetrical. But they are not strange. Children have better imaginations and are more in touch with their intuitive sides. It sometimes feels like I have to intellectualise more with adult actors. Children don't have to know the whole time why they are doing something. They are just present.

Q: How does God fit into your films?

LM: I believe in God but I am not an enormously religious person. I believe but I also doubt. I am not sure about things but I believe in Jesus and I believe in God. It was important when I realised that believing meant just that - believing. You don't know. Before I wasn't sure if I believed. But you don't have to be sure about believing. You can just believe.

Q: What is your next project?

LM: There are many things that I am interested in but I do not know exactly what I am going to do next. Even if I did know, I am not sure if I would say. There are some elements in Lilya 4-Ever that I am still interested in, such as consumerism. We live in a society where people believe that everything can be bought and everything can be sold. But it will deal with a different set of issues, I think.

Q: What frustrates you?

LM: In Sweden, I am frustrated by intolerance. I am frustrated by silence. I am frustrated by empty streets on Sundays. I am frustrated by segregation. I sometimes do like empty streets and silence but I never like segregation.

Q: How much editing do your films go through?

LM: Quite a lot. Together was the film that transformed the most in editing. Lilya 4-Ever wasn't that hard to edit but it changed a little. Together was special because we changed everything around. We mixed everything around. I think it is important to have people around you that you trust. You can be quite lazy as a director when you are editing. I have a tendency to say that the film is finished when it isn't. But I have a team around me who tell me when it isn't, which can be frustrating because it means more work.

Q: Has there been much difference in the reaction of men and women to Lilya 4-Ever?

LM: It's a good question. I can give you some facts, even if they are generalising and stereotypical and there are obviously many exceptions. It seems to be seen in a more positive way by women than men. I receive letters saying that this is the best film they have ever seen and they are always women. Almost all of the negative responses I have received are from men. In the Swedish newspapers there were four film critics who had a grade of zero to six, with six at the top. The two female critics gave it six and five but the two male critics gave it two. That's an extreme example but that is the case. It is interesting to think about why but I am not sure why.

Q: What is the difference in screen-writing and writing poetry?

LM: I am trying to combine the two things now. They used to be very different. My poetry was very self-centred and I then had a reaction against poetry. So far my films have been very realistic, except for some parts of Lilya 4-Ever. But I am now interested in combining the two voices I have in my head but I am not sure if it will happen. I have now written things that are closer to poetry that I would like to translate into films.

Q: Do you think you will make more films abroad?

LM: I will always be a Swedish film-maker first and foremost. But there are one or two subjects that I find very interesting that would be more suited to the English-speaking world. I would like to make a film in America. There are things that really interest me there - some are positive but some are negative.

Q: I don't believe in God and I find the ending of Lilya 4-Ever very depressing. I just don't see any hope there.

LM: Even if you don't believe in God, you have to accept that some people live in hell on earth. For some people there is no hope. If we talk about a woman who jumps from the bridge after she has been repeatedly raped in a country where she doesn't understand a word and her mother has left her there is of course hope that things will change for her if she doesn't jump. But if she does jump from the bridge I personally cannot live with the idea that she just dies. I believe that when she does jump, she will meet someone. Even if you cannot relate to that, I think that the film in itself can play a part in the world to create hope. The film is in itself hopeful. When people see the film, some people get sad, some people get depressed but some people get angry. I think that people getting angry is, in itself, hopeful.

Q: How important is music to you?

LM: It is important to me personally and as a director. I work with music a lot to illustrate things but also to play a realistic and dramatic part in the story. In this film, the Russian pop music has meaning. It is not just pop music. The songs mean something. With this film, I wanted to achieve the effect of the audience being hit by a bulldozer. That's what I wanted the film to be. Some people say that the film is predictable but I wanted people to know what was going to happen. The music is a very important part of that.

DL: Thank you very much for coming, Lukas. It has been a pleasure.

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2003 FisherKing - version 1.0