Lilya-4-Ever

ABOUT THE CAST


Screenplay & Director . . . . . . . . Lukas Moodysson

MAIN CAST
Lilya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oksana Akinshina
Volodya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Artiom Bogucharskij
Natasha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elina Beninson


LUKAS MOODYSSON
BIOGRAPHY

Lukas 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 Moodysson’s 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.

FILMOGRAPHY
Showdown in the Underworld (short) 1995
Talk (short) 1997
Fucking Åmål (aka Show me love) 1998
The New Country (co-writer) 2000
Together 2000
Lilya 4-ever 2002


ACTORS’
BIOGRAPHIES

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 Lilya’s 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 Academy’s school. Together with his sister he dances in the folk dance group, ”The Red Star”. Lilya 4-ever is Artiom’s 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 didn’t appreciate the cold, dirt, damp and the freezing clothes. He says about Lukas, ”He has the same humour as a Russian”.

 

INTERVIEW:

LUKAS MOODYSSON
Sweden’s 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 Sweden’s filmmaking legend Ingmar Bergman labelled his debut ”A young master’s 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 I’ll keep that to myself. However, I don’t 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 Volodya.

”Once I had the idea for the story, I knew the whole universe in it. It encompassed the personal tragedy – Lilya’s – 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 finished.”

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 hadn’t 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,” says Moodysson.

”However, I didn’t 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. I’m not blaming the poor countries, but the rich ones who exploit them. In today’s 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 don’t 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 don’t 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 political statement.”

Plot, characters and dialogue are the key in Lukas Moodysson’s 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 doesn’t 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 don’t 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 and producer.”

Looking back at Moodysson’s 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 child’s 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 don’t 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 can’t 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.”

Jacob Neiiendam, Screen International