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BERLIN 2018 Competition

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Adina Pintilie • Director

"I hope the film can open a dialogue and foster empathy, inclusion and freedom of expression"


- BERLIN 2018: Romanian director Adina Pintilie explores the challenges of making her first film, Touch Me Not

Adina Pintilie  • Director
(© Richard Hübner/Berlinale)

A director with a long history in experimental film, this year Adina Pintilie became the first Romanian female director ever selected in the Berlinale competition. Here is what she has to say about her first feature, Touch Me Not [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Adina Pintilie
film profile
, a thought-provoking and relevant exploration of intimacy.

Cineuropa: Touch Me Not has changed a great deal over the past few years. Can you share with us how it finally took the shape it has now?
Adina Pintilie:
 From the very beginning, the film started off as a personal exploration. When I was 20, I thought I knew everything about love, about how a healthy, intimate relationship should be, how desire functions and so on. Today, after 20 years of trials and tribulations, all of my views on intimacy, which used to be so clear, seem to have lost their definition, and grown more complex and unsettlingly contradictory.

Touch Me Not started off as a reflection of this subjective journey, driven by my curiosity to discover how other people experience this challenging aspect of their life. Born of a long-term research process, the film worked with a mix of reality and fiction, of a professional and a non-professional cast, using a fusion of scripted and real elements. A wonderful group of gifted and courageous characters ventured out together with me in this research, existing in the blurred area between their real biographies and their fictionalised ones. We used procedures such as family constellation, staging reality, (re)enactments of memories or dreams, meetings between real and fictional characters, video diaries, etc. The shape of the film changed organically throughout this complex process of self-exploration that the characters took the risk of embarking on together with me. 

Is there anything you would like to tell the audience before they watch the film? Maybe a particular key to interpreting it?
It's maybe not something that I would tell the audience before they watch the film, but something that I would definitely hope they leave the movie theatre with after the screening: I hope they will experience it with an open heart. I hope the film can create a space for (self-)reflection and transformation within which the viewer may be challenged to re-evaluate his or her experience and ideas about human intimate relationships. I hope the movie can open a dialogue and foster empathy, inclusion and freedom of expression. I hope to stimulate the audience’s curiosity about the Other, someone else who may be different, and our empathic ability to place ourselves inside that Other’s skin.

What persuaded you to become a character, and what were your main reservations before doing so?
In the film, myself, the filmmaker and the camera are mainly silent witnesses to the characters' experiences, the lens being the channel or communication bridge that offers the viewer access to some of the most intimate territories in these people's lives. My presence brings in the initial emotional drive as well, which set the research process in motion, establishing a frame of reading for the film. Although the focus is not on the filmmaker, but rather on these amazing human beings who helped me rediscover or relearn intimacy. In the film, I am more like a child who is discovering the world with curiosity and wonder: discovering how surprising and beautiful human beings can be, how much poetry can exist in a person like Laura, Tomas, Christian, Grit and the others. I am so profoundly grateful to our incredibly brave characters, who took huge risks in sharing with us, with the camera, some of their most vulnerable areas.

Are you working on a new feature-film project? Could you describe it in a few sentences?
We are presently working on two new feature films, both of which take the research on intimacy that we've started with Touch Me Not further and into greater depth. The one I will make next, with the working title The Death and the Maiden, is a detailed X-ray of a relationship followed during an extended period, with its ups and downs, with a particular focus on how time and the subjectivity of memory inform our experience of intimacy.

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