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BERLINALE 2024 Panorama

Carmen Jaquier & Jan Gassmann • Directors of Paradises of Diane

"You have to accept the complexity of all these characters and their many different viewpoints"


- BERLINALE 2024: The Swiss directors chatted with us about their first collaboration as a directorial duo and about the importance of showing walks of life which differ from the norm

Carmen Jaquier & Jan Gassmann • Directors of Paradises of Diane

On the occasion of the international premiere of Paradises of Diane [+see also:
film review
interview: Carmen Jaquier & Jan Gassmann
film profile
in the 74th Berlinale’s Panorama line-up, we chatted with Carmen Jaquier and Jan Gassmann about their brave new feature film, which tells the tale of a woman who gives birth but then decides to leave everything behind and go off in search of her own special truth.

How did you come to make a film about the complexity of motherhood and, more specifically, the rejection of motherhood? 
Carmen Jaquier: The idea came about a few years ago now. At the time, I’d come across a story which made me think about the taboos relating to motherhood, about someone who’d concealed their post-natal depression from those around them. I’d also rewatched Wanda by Barbara Loden, which, from the very first scenes, depicts a woman rejecting motherhood. It was with all these questions in mind that I wrote an instinctive first draft of the screenplay. Jan read it really quickly. I felt that the film and the main character - her particular truth - needed to be anchored in reality. So I thought it would be really interesting to create a dialogue between Jan’s artistic universe, influenced by the documentary field, and the character of Diane. From there, we started to carry out research and learn about the subject, which wasn’t really discussed in the public sphere back in 2016, when the project first started. We also conducted some very upfront interviews with lots of women about their experiences of motherhood.

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Why make a film together and how did your collaboration evolve? 
Jan Gassmann: I find the way Carmen writes is very different to my own approach; she’s more offbeat, more dreamlike – she’s fascinating. I wanted to enter into her universe.

CJ: The fact that we had the same film references and really clear aesthetic references definitely helped us. It often happened that we didn’t agree on things; we had to talk, understand each other’s viewpoints and finally ask ourselves what was best for the film. We tried not to make any compromises.

How did you choose your lead actress? Did you work very much ahead of time, before filming began? 
CJ: When we met Dorothée de Koon, Jan got a really good feeling about her and, straight away, he wanted to see her again. It was different for me; it was only when I filmed her that I felt she was our Diane. The three of us didn’t want to focus too heavily on the psychology side of things. Our work was mainly focused on her body. Diane is in survival mode, she’s taking action. The clothes she wears, which were really important to building up her character, become a kind of second skin. We wanted her to be camouflaged in Benidorm, for her to be the same ochre colour as the city’s walls, for her outfit not to attract attention. Opting for trainers was also significant: you can’t hear her footsteps, she floats, she has a particular way of walking. Her slightly feeble movements lend the character a special something.

Could you tell us a little more about the film’s title? 
JG: Paradises, in the plural, refers to the different states in which Diane finds herself, her different ways of being in the world. The concept of paradise - which is fundamentally a religious concept underlying a moral question - becomes plural. Diane doesn’t only have one paradise, she has several.

CJ: The title also echoes Chantal Akerman’s film The Meetings of Anna, which was a real reference for us. It was crucial to the writing of our film, and afterwards, too. We’re huge admirers of Chantal Akerman’s work, of which Aurore Clément (who plays Rose in the film) revealed some inspiring details. Paradises of Diane is the portrait of one woman, not of "women". You just have to accept this multitude of possibilities and accept the complexity of all these characters and their many different viewpoints.

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(Translated from French)

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