YIDFF 2019 International Competition
In Our Paradise
An Interview with Claudia Marschal (Director)

Sisters’ Gulf Reflected Through Prayers

Q: What were you aware of as you followed these two sisters for this film?

CM: I wanted to make a beautiful film because it’s such an important topic. I reached for an entirely new form of narration in planning the composition and I built a rhythm using the fragments of prayers. Everyone has prayers no matter their culture or beliefs. In Roma culture, there’s a prayer for wanting a reversal, for hoping someday to not be the one who is oppressed. Because they have that, they can keep living and push forward with strength. By putting that prayer in the film, I hoped it would protect the characters. I also thought it would work as a way of pulling the film forward by creating a mystery about the connection between the images and the words.

Q: As we see more of the sisters' circumstances, their various connections, with family, school, town, and country, start to stand out. Your relationship with the sisters was also very important, wasn’t it?

CM: I made this film as though I were an accomplice to the sisters. I met the younger sister first, in 2004, and the older sister in 2012. Building human relationships takes time. I needed that time as well. Everyone has biases and preconcieved ideas, but if you look at things with those blinders on, you won’t see the real issues. In order to see clearly what is really happening and what the problems are, time is essential. I shot most of what made it into the film after 2012. Before the younger sister lived in France, she lived in Germany and she speaks German. Because we spoke the same language, we quickly became friends. But I think I really came to understand her after I went to Bosnia in 2012. I felt like I truly understood her after I realized for the first time how much she was carrying with her.

Q: Because we’re now in an era when communication and distribution have developed so much, I felt how deep the gulf was for the sisters. These divisions are actually within us as well.

CM: One of the sisters seems to be succeeding. But that’s just the younger sister. It’s a somewhat tense relationship where the older sister has taken inspiration from her sister’s success and now has the same dreams. Because it looks like the younger sister is doing well, the older sister ends up demanding a lot of her. By carefully raising the specific problems of this Roma family, I would like many people in the audience to watch while bringing in their own personal problems and seeing themselves in these women. I would be very satisfied if I could make a film which could spread globally.

Q: What do you think we can do about these divisions?

CM: The biggest part of discimination is ignorance. So what we need is education. I think it’s important to educate, to enlighten, and to cultivate open-mindedness. My small hope is that more and more people come to feel close with these Roma sisters by watching the movie, and we can move the line between these divisions a little.

(Compiled by Abe Shizuka)

Interviewers: Abe Shizuka, Kusunose Kaori / Interpreter: Fujiwara Toshi / Translator: Caitlin Casiello
Photography: Sugawara Mayu / Video: Miyamoto Airi / 2019-10-13