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IFFR 2024 Big Screen Competition

Sophia Bösch • Director of Milk Teeth

“When the imagined world becomes real, that is an absolutely magical moment for me”

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- The Swiss-Swedish director unpicks her intriguing coming-of-age drama that unfolds in a mystical forest setting

Sophia Bösch • Director of Milk Teeth
(© Merav Maroody)

Following the success of her short , Swiss-Swedish director Sophia Bösch presented her feature-length drama Milk Teeth [+see also:
film review
interview: Sophia Bösch
film profile
]
at this year's IFFR, in the Big Screen Competition. Here, once again, a young woman in search of her role in society plays the main role in the story. We talked to the director about the setting and her lead actress.

Cineuropa: You already chose a non-urban environment for your previous film. What draws you to such settings?
Sophia Bösch:
I feel a great fascination for what happens to us humans when we face nature, when we are confronted with a form of nature that seems overpowering or that is bigger than us. In addition to my Swiss roots, I also have roots in Sweden, where my last film, , was shot. In Northern Sweden, the forest has a completely different dimension than it does here in Central Europe. I was interested in this feeling of standing in such a forest and feeling small. On the one hand, you feel safe, and on the other, you feel totally exposed because you don't know what or who is in the forest. I find the human attempt to categorise things, to understand things and to control things that we actually can't control fascinating. There are many narratives, myths and stories that have emerged from this urge.

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This desire for control and the fear of losing one’s power fit in well with the coming-of-age theme of your film.
The movie is indeed a coming-of-age story. The main character is searching for her path in life and, at the same time, wants to belong somewhere. For me, this will to belong to a group is something very typical for the process of growing up. It includes the desire for respect and acceptance. For a female living in a patriarchal system, it takes on an additional dimension. You realise that the prevailing power structures are not made for you and that you don't belong to them. But you still look for strategies to both be yourself and fit in. That's what the main character goes through. The movie is based on a novel; in the adaptation, it was her perspective that I wanted to focus on. I was interested in her journey and her emancipation process.

How did you find the actress to play the lead role?
It was a long process. I met a lot of really great young women for this role. But with Mathilde Bundschuh, I knew immediately that she was the right fit. When she read the script, she herself said: “I have to do it; this is me.”

Where did you shoot?
We were a travelling production. It was a challenge to find these places that I had in my head. It had to be a world far removed from civilisation and also kind of post-industrial in its looks. For the river, for example, which is very important for the story, we searched for a long time. On the one hand, it had to be wide enough, and on the other, it couldn't have any inhabited banks. It needed wilderness to the left and right of it. In Europe, however, most wide rivers are rarely like this. It was also difficult because the surroundings still had to be accessible for a film crew. The same applies to the characters' houses. We searched for a long time to make sure they were perfect. In the end, we filmed in four German regions.

What was the biggest challenge for you in this movie?
It was the moment when, after three years of isolation, during which I wrote the screenplay with Roman Gielke, I was suddenly shooting with so many people. But that's the wonderful thing about filmmaking, of course – when everything comes together and the movie is actually made. The scenes that we had in our heads or had written beforehand come to life. The imagined world becomes real. That is an absolutely magical moment for me. Even so, it was a very ambitious project. I was warned not to shoot with animals and children, and there are live animals, dead animals and children in our movie!

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