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Girl Picture - Sundance 2022: Interview with cast and director

Interview by Emmanuel Itier with: Director Alli Haapasalo and actresses: Aamu Milonoff (“Mimmi”), Linnea Leino (“Emma”), Eleonoora Kauhaner (“Rönkkö”).

 


 

Q: Where does this movie come from and what were you trying to explore with it?

 

Alli: It started with a conversation with the screenwriters Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen who wanted to explore with me what it is like to be a young female teenager today. I got a treatment from them may years ago and I fell in love with it because the characters in it where so irresistible. For me it was a very modern and fresh depiction of what it is to be a young girl. And I haven’t seen too many films depicting such an approach about young women. So, it became a mission to make a good and solid movie about girls who are complex characters. I was interested with exploring that age where you are both an adult and a child. You are fluctuating between both stages. And it can be very difficult times because on one hand people treat you as a mature person but on the other hand, you’re very childlike in many ways. You look like a person who could be totally independent, and in many ways, you can be, you have a lot of wisdom already, but at the same time you want to curl up in your parents’ arms and be held and be told what to do. Also, there is so much urgency in teenagers’ lives. They are so wise and so analytical and good about seeing the world.  But there is also this lack of perspectives because of the age that can make you very self-absorb. In this movie everyone is very concerned with themselves. So, it’s a very interesting playground for a filmmaker. At the end if became a little bit of a manifesto for young girls.

 

 

Q: For each of you, what are the themes and messages explored in this film?

What is it telling us about being a young woman in 2022?

 

 

 

Eleonoora: What I like with my character, Rönkkö, is how she has the urgency to find herself. It shows that you don’t have to know always where you go. Life is not always from A to B. It’s a constant journey and it helps me knowing who I am. Also, her sexuality is wide open, and it’s not shamed like it is sometimes in society. It’s important for me to show her with honesty.

 

Linnea: in the case of “Emma”, she knows what she wants to do, she is an ice-skater. But she hasn’t experienced all the feelings of life and when it hits her, love, she doesn’t know what to do. She is overwhelmed. And suddenly her life is not totally under control. It’s like if her life crumbles and she is trying to piece it together.

 

Aamu: What talked to me the most with this story is how, the three of us, are caught in-between childhood and adulthood. Being a teenager is uncomfortable because you’re either too much or too little, you’re too young or too old. It’s hard because you always have to define yourself over and over, and it’s hard.

 

Alli: For me it’s important to represent girls acting on their own terms, and not define by parents or men. The do what they want without getting in danger at all. It was important also to show teenagers who wants to have sex but not being punished, as it is in some movies, for desiring it. We see them getting in dangerous situations or teenage pregnancy. Girls are complex, terrible and wonderful. They don’t need to be represented as one side of a story, they can be the whole story.

 

 

Q: What challenges did you face making this film?

 

Linnea: For sure, for me, it was ice-skating! It was a huge part of my character and trained over 3 months with a coach. It was intense but it was also so rewarding. And it was a huge opportunity to learn ice skating.

 

Aamu: I think that we wanted to be so right with each character without being too much. It was a challenge to find their true inner voice.

 

 

Eleonoora: And, this is why, every character is so believable because we spent so much time to reach to this point of making them right. Also, it was my first feature, so I had to trust myself and be part of the creative flow. I had to convince myself that I was there for a reason.

 

Alli: Of course, the challenge of time and money is always a huge one! Then we had covid as well, partly. The script game lots of freedom and it was a nice challenge to be able to bring in my own vision of this film. Such as with the cast since the girls were not even described. So, I could pick up who felt right for such and such girl. The biggest challenge for me was to trust the story itself. In the editing room I had to find this movie and I kept asking my editor: “does it feel enough for you”. It’s a fragment of life, of their life, so you have to encapsulate what it means to be these girls and what they truly feel about their existence.

 

Q: What does Sundance means to you?

 

Linnea: It’s surreal and it means a lot. And it so great to meet other people from around the world through the various interviews. It’s such an honor to be part of this amazing film festival.

 

Eleonoora: Sundance is amazing. And I’m so glad they gave a voice to young women like me. This is important for young girls to see this film. I hope it creates a great impact.

 

Alli: Sundance is validation for us. It’s from a small country and it’s called Girl Picture but I’m so pleased that Sundance gave us a voice. And I think it’s the right timing to have more girl stories released to the world through film festivals like Sundance. I hope lots of girls but also boys and non-binary people will see this film. It’s a huge opportunity to be seen, thanks to Sundance. Also, I love the inclusivity given by Sundance and bringing us in this community of filmmakers. This is truly a unique and inspiring experience.

 

 

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Ambiance from Park City Sundance film Festival January 20 - 30, 2022.

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