Screenplay & Director . . . . . . . . Lukas Moodysson
Lilya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oksana Akinshina
Volodya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Artiom Bogucharskij
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elina Beninson
Moodysson was born in 1969 in the south of Sweden. Long before trying
his hand at filmmaking he published a collection of poetry when
he was just 17, which was followed by several books of poetry and
a novel. He graduated from Dramatiska Institutet, where he made
a number of short films, before he started working with Memfis Film.
The short film Talk was followed in 1998 by his feature debut Fucking
Åmål (also known as Show me love). A major hit with
audiences and critics alike and praised
by filmmaking legend Ingmar Bergman Moodysson was soon considered
the great new hope of the Swedish film
industry. Fucking Åmål went on to worldwide distribution
and picked up several awards and nominations, including four
Swedish Film Awards and a nomination as Best European Film of the
Year by the European Film Academy.
Lukas Moodyssons next film, Together (Tillsammans), more
than lived up to his debut and became an even bigger hit. It
premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2000, and was a bona-fide
box-office hit across the world. It established Moodysson
on the international filmmaking scene, both commercially and artistically.
Together was featured on several major US and UK newspapers
film-of-the-year lists in 2001.
In 2000 Lukas Moodysson was also co-writer of the award-winning
Swedish Tvseries The New Country, (directed by Geir
Hansteen-Jörgensen). Lukas Moodysson lives in Malmö with
his wife and two sons. Lilya 4-ever is his third feature film.
Showdown in the Underworld (short) 1995
Talk (short) 1997
Fucking Åmål (aka Show me love) 1998
The New Country (co-writer) 2000
Lilya 4-ever 2002
OKSANA AKINSHINA as Lilya
Oksana was born in St Petersburg in 1987. She is studying at high
school. Oksana played the lead role in Sisters (directed by Sergei
Bodrov Jr), which was a great success in Russian cinemas in 2001.
The film was selected for the Venice Film Festival and was distributed
in a number of countries. In 2001 she also worked on the film In
Movement as well as the TV series, Happy New Year. Oksana enjoyed
working with Lukas even if she felt that Lilyas character
was sometimes hard to play. Lukas helped and gave advice and
together we found solutions to the problems.
ARTIOM BOGUCHARSKIJ as Volodya
Artiom was born in Moscow in 1989. He is currently at music school
and besides being a chorister he plays several instruments, such
as the clarinet and the piano. For the past few years he has also
been studying with the Russian Theatre Academys school. Together
with his sister he dances in the folk dance group, The Red
Star. Lilya 4-ever is Artioms first film role, but the
work has given him a taste for more. Artiom is currently playing
a larger role in a Russian TV series. Artiom says he really liked
the studio at Trollhättan, Lukas Moodysson as a director, and
everyone in the crew. On the other hand, he didnt appreciate
the cold, dirt, damp and the freezing clothes. He says about Lukas,
He has the same humour as a Russian.
Swedens highly respected and influential young filmmaker,
Lukas Moodysson, has in his two films, Fucking Åmål
and Together, breached the difficult gap between art and commerce.
He has been embraced by audiences and critics across the world,
and Swedens filmmaking legend Ingmar Bergman labelled his
debut A young masters first masterpiece. This
has, however, not kept Moodysson from pushing himself ever since.
He takes his audience on a completely different voyage in Lilya
4-ever away from the political and personal problems of 70s
Sweden to the harsh reality of the former Soviet Union in the present.
It is very hard to say exactly when or how the idea came to
me, he says. After Together I just knew I wanted to
go deeper in my next film. The moments in your life, when you get
these absolutely clear ideas, are very hard to describe. I know
when it happened, I know what kind of music I was listening to,
but Ill keep that to myself. However, I dont know if
it had been stored in my mind for a long time before then.
Lilya is a 16 year-old girl living in an unnamed city in the former
Soviet Union, and like many of her peers (and the girls in Fucking
Åmål), her greatest dream is to get away from there.
Her mother finds a man, who promises to take them to the US, but
once there the mother never sends for her daughter and Lilya is
left to take care of herself and her only friend, the younger boy
Once I had the idea for the story, I knew the whole universe
in it. It encompassed the personal tragedy Lilyas
and a bygger political reality. Then it felt like the film was already
there. I did some research, but the story really came to me quite
While producer Lars Jönsson began to finance the $3m drama,
Moodysson went through extensive casting, and saw close to 1000
children for the two main parts in the film. Over a period of 4
months, the crew visited Moscow, St. Petersburg and
Tallinn, before finally deciding on Russians Oksana Akinshina (Lilya)
and Artiom Bogucharskij (Volodya).
I had travelled very little in those countries before, and
initially I hadnt decided that the place would be unnamed,
but I knew it had to be a raped society a collapsed empire.
A run-down housing complex, where the main characters Lilya and
Volodya lives, was found outside Tallinn (Estonia) in the Russian-speaking
district Paldiski, close to an abandoned ex-Soviet submarine base.
That place used to be a centre of power, but today it is empty,
However, I didnt want anyone to say that one specific
country was to blame for that situation. Though the story centres
on the characters, the society around them is very important too.
It could have taken place in Mexico, because it is about the major
gap between the rich and the poor people as well as countries and
how simple it is for wealthy nations to exploit poor ones.
We live in a culture, where you can buy anything. You can
buy people, their labour or their intestines a kidney from
India or Turkey TV-shows like Ricki Lake is also a trade
of lives. My film is about that world. Im not blaming the
poor countries, but the rich ones who exploit them. In todays
globalized world Swedish companies can move their factories to poorer
countries, and pay close to nothing for the labour. This causes
even further desperation for those, who dont have anything.
It is not surprising that so many (like Lilya) dream of getting
away from there. In Moldavia for example, the poorest country in
Europe, I believe some 99% of the young people there dont
believe in a future in their own country. They all want to leave.
They also have a catastrophic high percentage of the women, who
have sold sex. That is the terrible reality, and not the fault of
Moldavia. Both communistic and a capitalistig rape. What you make
film about is a political choice, so in that sense my film is a
Plot, characters and dialogue are the key in Lukas Moodyssons
films. He is a writer directing his own stories, and in Fucking
Åmål and Together his realistic and sharp dialogue has
been a standout. But in Lilya 4-ever, all the dialogue is in Russian!
You have to challenge yourself it is like football.
You play better if your opponent is the champion. But how
does he handle working with actors, he doesnt share a language
with? You are very careful in your casting and choose very
good actors. Once
I have them, I must have great faith in them, and they in me. From
then on it is very basic. You build a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere
for the whole shoot, not just for the kids. It means they dare to
make mistakes and try things, without the restrain of nerves. It
is essential. From then on I guess it is intuition, and I think
I direct less than people might think. Of course I control
everything, but I dont go changing small details all the time.
When you listen, you know if it is right or not. I had interpreters
as well, and one of them was Alexandra Dahlstrom (the young actress
playing Elin in Fucking Åmål). It is very important
to me, that I have people I know around me, and that is why I use
the same cinematographer and assistant director, as well as editor
Looking back at Moodyssons now three feature films, it becomes
obvious, that certain elements are repeated throughout. Teenagers
are always the focal point, as the director seems to prefer to see
the world through their eyes. I believe that you are who you
used to be. Everyone has been a child and had a childs view
of the world. They are the least powerful, the lowest in the hierarchy,
and I can identify with them and their perspective. There are elements
from my previous films, which are repeated or continued in this
one. I dont really see the films as separate, but part of
a process since I write them and develop along with them. One film
blends into the next, as there are issues you cant finish
in just one film. Places and situations are recurring,
like a bridge over a freeway in Lilya 4-ever which was also in a
key scene in Fucking Åmål. Yes, the bridge has
a certain meaning to me, but it is hard to explain why. I know,
however, it will come back in my next film. There are several aspects
to it, but one is no doubt that I grew up close to one. At night
we would sneak out and meet on it.
Neiiendam, Screen International