Lukas Moodysson

Lilya 4-ever

Interviewed by David Michael

After gaining international respect for his first two films, "Show Me Love" and "Together", Swedish director Lukas Moodysson serves up his most devastating film yet with "Lilya 4-ever". The movie depicts a teenage girl's life after she leaves the former Soviet Union for the seemingly greener pastures of Sweden.

Is Lilya a symbol of Russia?

No. The film for me is not about Russia, or about Sweden. For me it's about the gap between rich and poor, amongst other things. The rich doesn't mean Sweden and the poor doesn't mean Russia.

It's a brutally dark script...

Mentally, I think I had to go to some terrible places to write the script. I had to live through a girl being raped everyday, and it's not such a nice experience.

Is the child prostitution shown in the film a major epidemic in Sweden?

It's very real, but I don't think Sweden has a major problem like Italy for example, where they bring in lots of Albanian girls. It happens everywhere in the world, and it just makes you want to cry.

Not speaking Russian, how did you direct the young Russian actors?

I cannot guarantee the words they're saying in the film are correct! But I could control the emotional levels and how they were acting. The first day was very difficult; it was very wet and muddy, and the actors weren't acting very well. So I told them to improvise because they were following the script too closely. They started talking completely freely, and I had no idea what they were talking about. I remember just falling back into the mud, because everything was complete chaos, and then I just decided to let the chaos reign.

Like David Lynch's "Lost Highway", you use the music of Rammstein to add a hard dramatic edge...

I hadn't seen "Lost Highway". I found Rammstein graffiti on the walls whilst on location [in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia], so I thought it was important to incorporate realistic elements into the fictional work of the film.

What do you think of the level of criticism Ingmar Bergman gets from the new generation of Swedish filmmakers for the impression he's created of Sweden?

I think it's really sad. Just because he had a lot of power and now is old, people are talking very badly about Bergman. He's a person who should be criticised but should also be shown respect. He lives in this big house on this small island; his wife died and he is all alone.

I see myself as that kind of lonely person and I have this grim vision of myself when I'm 82-years-old, sitting there on a small island somewhere, and everybody's saying, "Finally, can you please die Lukas Moodysson! We don't want to see you anymore."