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Tribeca Film Festival

Online Dailies Coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival.


Tribeca Film Festival 2016 - "Mother" interview with the filmmakers

This darkly comic crime mystery set in small-town Estonia centers on Elsa, the mother and full time caretaker of Lauri, a teacher who has been in a coma since being shot under shadowy circumstances. Attentive in her duties but at the end of her tether, Elsa receives Lauri’s visitors—friends, students, his girlfriend, his boss, and others—who come to update the unconscious Lauri on their lives and unburden themselves of their troubles. But as the police inquiry into the crime progresses, some of his closest ties are called into question.

'Mother" premiered internationally at 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. We sat down with the female-driven filmmakers: director Kadri Kõusaar, co-writer Leana Jalukse, and producer Aet Laigu, on their inspirations and origins of the film, challenges in filmmaking, advice to other women filmmakers and more.

Kadri, you have been writing and in the media since you were thirteen years old. What made you decide to take on this project as a director?
Kadri Kõusaar: At that time I was a fresh mother so I wasn’t writing any scripts. This was a very fascinating story, it touches a taboo subject and for me, my favorite films always deal with that. It takes place in this great atmosphere. I saw a great opportunity.

How did you get the inspiration for this film?
Leana Jalukse: The idea came from Al Wallcat. We collaborated on a number of projects together before. One of us gets the idea and then we go from there. The basic set-up was a mother taking care of a grown-up son and a number of people around them. Then we developed this idea: what happened to that man, who are the characters that have been in his life, who is responsible. That’s how the story was born.

This is an all-female production team. Not very common in the film industry. Was it challenging?
Aet: it is a very male-dominated industry. You can see that as a producer. During a reception in Berlin, I was the only woman in the room. In Sweden for instance, there’re actually laws that dictate how much financing should go to female directors or projects that have a certain percentage going towards women. That’s the only way we can do it there.

EWA (European Women’s Audiovisual Network) published a research they made over the years of how many women go to film school (which was more than 40%), how many films are made by women and why do they disappear in between. A big thing was that they just don’t get the funding. When asked why would you hire a man in the TV Company as a director, the answer was because women are too bossy.

Kadri: When I was touring, traveling with my other film years ago, that was playing in festivals, it was very rare to see other women. It has something to do with biology too. When you’re raising children, or giving birth, that can be a challenge. Also a single mother, you don’t have that financial support. But I do think it is getting better.

How did you find the main actress Tiina Mälberg?
Kadri: I saw her in a theater play. In Estonia everybody kind of knows everyone. I might have heard her name, but never knew her. In a way that’s actually why she was perfect for the role. She lives in a small town. Her whole career is similar to the character Mother. Tiina moved to a small town with her now ex-husband, because he was offered a good job there, sacrificing her career. They now are divorced and she stayed in the small town, because of the children. She clicked so well with the character. She knows what it means to live in a small town, moving there, giving up your dreams.

Any advice for other women filmmakers?
Leana: a lot of people said they could see that this film was made by women. We should use our knowledge, that insight we have and put it to work. Men read very differently. I think its strength creating female characters in the future. One of the latest reviews said the men in our film are portrayed as women usually are in films. For me, this was a compliment.

Kadri: Open your souls.

Aet: As a producer I’m interested in making films about women because I am one. If I would advise anything it would be to do things that you know about, then you can give the most and it will help you along. If I want to make a film about a man, I would definitely need to get a man on board to write the script. It works both ways.


Interview by L. Fietz





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About Tribeca Film Festival

Online Dailies Coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival, April 17-28, 2013


The Tribeca Film Festival brings together local, national, and international talent to provide the New York City, downtown community with five days of screenings, educational workshops, and various special events.
Live coverage with dailies from Lia Fietz, Suzanne Lynch, Claus Mueller, Maria Esteves 


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