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Mia Hansen-Løve • Director of Maya

Vocation, addiction, love and duality

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- Mia Hansen-Løve talks to Cineuropa about Maya, shot primarily in India, unveiled at Toronto and soon to be released in French cinemas

Mia Hansen-Løve • Director of Maya
(© Carole Bethuel)

We met up with Mia Hansen-Løve in Paris to talk about Maya [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Mia Hansen-Løve
film profile
]
, her sixth feature film following All Is Forgiven [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: David Thion
interview: Mia Hansen-Löve
film profile
]
(Directors' Fortnight in 2007), Father of My Children [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Mia Hansen-Løve
film profile
]
(Special Mention in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2009), Goodbye First Love [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Mia Hansen-Love
film profile
]
(Special Mention at Locarno in 2011), Eden [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Charles Gillibert
interview: Mia Hansen-Løve
film profile
]
(in competition at San Sebastian in 2014) and Things to Come [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Mia Hansen-Løve
film profile
]
 (Silver Bear for Best Director at Berlin in 2016). Unveiled at Toronto, her new film is due to be released in French cinemas on 19 December by Les Films du Losange

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Cineuropa: Where did the initial idea for​​ Maya come from?
Mia Hansen-Løve
: Several things sort of came together: the idea of impossible love, shooting a film in India and focusing on the life of a war reporter. It's a film about vocation, a subject that has always played a part in my films. At the same time, going to India, and confronting a culture completely different to my own, represented a fairly radical new direction for me, even if that’s not necessarily the case from a formal point of view. And for the first time in my career, an idea sprung to mind for ​​a film that was not at all biographical or autobiographical.

What attracted you to the character of a war reporter?
The courage they embody, the fact that they risk their lives. I both admire and am fascinated by that. But I don't make films to praise courageous people. On the other hand, I’ve observed a certain modesty and reserve in war reporters, when they’re released after being held captive. They talk about some things, but there are other things that they don’t have the right to talk about or don’t necessarily want to talk about, that they will never discuss... There is also a relationship to suffering that we don’t often see in films and that can sometimes be a bit conventional if dealt with too manifestly. Among the war reporters I met, there is a certain modesty, a sense of pride, almost. They're not really too caught up in moments of introspection.

War reporters also have a sort of adrenaline-fuelled addiction to their job.
They always want to go back. There is something animalistic about it, the order of dependence, of irrepressible need, of an obscure force that drives them, despite the risk of being taken captive. I’m intrigued by this contradiction and the idea that vocation can often go hand-in-hand with ​​addiction. It can give you an incredible sense of strength, push you forward and help you to overcome obstacles, but at the same time it can also be a destructive force. There is a duality at work in my characters.

The other thread running through the film is the impossible love between two people of different ages and cultures. Love is also one of your favourite subjects.
Feelings are very present in my films. These days, auteur films rarely talk about feelings, because it is not that easy to make a film about emotions and love without casting known actors. This is not my story because I'm not Indian. However, as a young teenager, I was very much in love with a boy much older than me. It was an impossible love of sorts and it’s a feeling that I understand. However, when writing the film, I definitely identified with Gabriel’s character, too, who is immersed in a kind of asceticism, one that Maya brings back to life in a certain way, making him aware of the possibility to love.

You've introduced some thriller elements to this film for the first time.
On his way to Goa, the protagonist wants to find his roots, and a part of him wants to find his mother, but there is something almost fantastical to it, as if it were a lost paradise. Indeed, Goa is definitely a lost paradise and he is confronted with the reality of India in all its complexity, which is not an idyllic place at all. The external aggressions, threats and pursuits focus both on the impossibility of fleeing the real world – as violence, brutality and hostility will inevitably catch up with you, even if you travel to the end of the world – and the impossibility of feeling at home in a place. It is at once very concrete and metaphorical. I see the Indian part as both real and dreamlike. The characters who attack him at night are somewhat ghost-like and the burning house represents his destiny. India is telling him that he has to go back to his job, that he can't stay there. It almost acts as his subconscious.

What stage is your Bergman Island project at?
I was going to shoot the entire film last summer, but there were a few casting issues (Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie were joined by Vicky Krieps), meaning that we only shot half of the film. I’m due to start filming the other half mid-May.

(Translated from French)

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