Friday Feb 3, 2023
Friday Feb 3, 2023

Joanna Hogg, Tilda Swinton talk mothers, memory and regret


Nepalnews
2022 Sep 07, 20:55, VENICE, Italy
Tilda Swinton, right and Joanna Hogg pose for portrait photographs for the film 'The Eternal Daughter' during the 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. (Photo by AP)

Joanna Hogg was extremely nervous about showing her mother her latest film, “The Eternal Daughter.”

The writer-director of “The Souvenir” films had, again, mined her own life for material and inspiration. Here she wanted to make something about a woman about her age, in her 60s, and her mother on a trip together. It would be a ghost story, in a way, with conversations about memory, regret, life and happiness.

But she never got the chance to talk it over with her mother, who died while Hogg was editing the film. And she’s feeling a bit fragile a few hours before its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, sitting beside her star and lifelong friend Tilda Swinton, who plays both the mother, Rosalind, and the daughter, Julie.

Hogg is not the only one feeling this way, either. This is the kind of film that gets under your skin. And no one is quite sure if they’ll make it out of the interview with dry eyes (spoiler: they don’t).

“Maybe we’ll all just have a cry together,” Hogg said.

“I have tissues!” Swinton responded, handing one to Hogg and one to this reporter.

“She was so looking forward to seeing this film. She loves ghost stories — loved ghost stories,” Hogg said. “I was never brave enough to tell her what the film was about. But she probably knew because she was very intuitive.”

Tilda Swinton poses for portrait photographs for the film 'The Eternal Daughter' during the 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. (Photo by AP)
Tilda Swinton poses for portrait photographs for the film 'The Eternal Daughter' during the 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. (Photo by AP)

It’s something Hogg had been mulling for many years. There was a false start in 2008, but then she was emboldened by Swinton’s portrayal of the mother, Rosalind, in “The Souvenir” films. They wanted to go deeper into this woman who was a child in England in World War II.

In “The Eternal Daughter,” Julie would take her mother back to the large estate where she lived during the war, now a hotel, and ask her about her memories with the idea that it would become a film. The initial conceit was for Swinton to play Julie and to cast another, older actor for Rosalind. But Swinton had another idea: What if she just played both?

“It became a completely different film,” Swinton said. “It was not about a relationship between two people. It was about something much more profound and mystical and psychiatric and painful. It became much deeper.”

Swinton, whose mother died a decade ago, talked often with Hogg about surviving that loss. Then Hogg suffered the same after the shoot. Though her mother was in her early 90s, it came as a surprise.

August Joshi, from left, Carly-Sophia Davies, director Joanna Hogg and Tilda Swinton pose for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The Eternal Daughter' during the 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. (AP Photo)
August Joshi, from left, Carly-Sophia Davies, director Joanna Hogg and Tilda Swinton pose for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The Eternal Daughter' during the 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. (AP Photo)

They even wondered occasionally if the film would mean anything to anyone but them. It was so personal. But as with many great films, though the conversations and anxieties presented in “The Eternal Daughter” are theirs, the specificity also makes it universal.

On set, the small crew would also contribute their own stories to the process. Everyone was personally invested, which Swinton said is rare when you’re dealing with such “emotionally expensive” material.

“Having said that, it was so joyful,” Swinton said.

Hogg continued: “Yes, the darker the film, the lighter the shoot. (Ingmar) Bergman was an example of that. He had a great time on shoots!”

Then, of course, there were the logistics of filming long conversations between two characters being played by the same actor. Hogg and her cinematographer made what Swinton called a “radical filmmaking choice” to not shoot the typical over the shoulder angle that establishes that orients an audience in the scene, but to just shoot Julie and Rosalind individually.

With every film, once it’s done, Hogg says goodbye and lets it out into the world. “The Eternal Daughter,” which is playing in competition at Venice, will screen at several more festivals before A24 sets a release date.

“It’s hopefully a gift for people. We’ve really opened ourselves up,” Hogg said. “And our parents would be horrified.”

Swinton added quickly, “Or not? Maybe not.”

Then, as if rehearsed, the two lifelong friends said in unison: “Maybe they wouldn’t be.”

___

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Joanna Hogg Tilda Swinton talk mothers memory and regret nervous The Eternal Daughter
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