Your new movie Le Marquis
de la Croix - in a few words, what is it about?
mysterious Marquis lives out his days, trapped in a decadent prison, acting
out his twisted violent fantasies, writing about the philosophy
behind them, and listening to the crowd who chants outside for his head.
To ask a blunt and maybe silly question: How come a nice girl like you
makes a film like this?
What goes on in a
person's interior, in the realm of fantasy, has no limits or morals or ethics.
I simply tend to express mine on the outside in the form of movies.
de la Croix is somehow based on the writings and if I'm not
mistaken also the biography of the notorious Marquis de Sade. Since there
are also de Sadean influences in your other movies - what do you find so
fascinating about the man and his writings? And what would you deem
recommended reading by/about the man?
The narration is based on and in some cases directly quoted from the
Marquis de Sade. I also took a sampling of the tortures he describes in
his writings for the scenes of violence in the movie. And, yes, the
Marquis in my movie is similar to the Marquis de Sade in that he's in
prison writing dirty books while the crowd outside calls for his head.
his writing, de Sade brings a visceral violence to life. He connects
these inappropriate pieces of the soul to that violence, he explains the
dynamic between the victim and the monster in a way that is very
complex. Emotions are complex, people are complex, and their fantasies,
psyches and instincts sometimes unexplainable.
He attempts to explain the unexplainable.
He's a philosopher
of the basest instincts, something that was continued later through
other philosophers such as Georges
I would recommend Justine to those who haven't read his books. My
favorite short story of his is Eugénie de Franval. There's a movie by
Jess Franco, Eugenie
de Sade, based on that story, that I like very much.
Other sources of
inspiration when dreaming up Le Marquis
de la Croix?
looked at a lot of etchings and illustrations from the time period and we
researched music from that time as well to give the movie an auditory
atmosphere. Book illustrations can be invaluable because they were
considered a "low art" and are thus more connected with the
popular culture of the time.
How would you describe your
directorial approach to your subject in hand, also in comparison to your
My goal was to
bring de Sade to life in a way that channels the essence of his
writings, blunt and visceral, full of a twisted romance. So I couldn't
pull any punches. I needed to make the violence as true as possible
while creating a sick romance within that context.
I was working
with mostly acting and action in this film, there's not a lot of space,
the arc of the characters, especially that of Mila, is the centerpiece
here. In some instances I had to let the two characters be and do
without my interference. That's also similar to what I've had to do in
other films. I don't like to force a dynamic between two actors, I
prefer to nurture it into being.
Almost all of Le Marquis
de la Croix was shot in one single room - was this merely for
budgetary reasons, and what are both the advantages and the challenges of
filming on limited sets?
de Sade's life as a writer and a prisoner it was only fitting that it be
a story of interiors. The inside of the prison cell also represents the
interior of the Marquis' imagination.
In terms of
budget, we used the same set as the dungeon in Maleficarum. We
redecorated it completely and shot it Roger Corman-style [Roger
Corman bio - click here].
Torturer and victim in Le Marquis
de la Croix are played by your frequent partners-in-crime Jac
Avila [Jac Avila interview - click here]
and Mila Joya. Why them, did you write the characters specifically for
them to begin with, and how did they react to the roles they were destined
Mila Joya, Amy Hesketh, Jac Avila
I wrote the
roles specifically for the two of them. Jac was excited to play the role
of the Marquis, being a fan of the writings of de Sade. He was at the
same time a bit reluctant to play a character who is essentially a
monster so soon after playing a psychopath in Barbazul (Bluebeard). It
was a challenge for him as an actor because of the heavy reliance on
subtext for his character.
Mila had no
qualms about the role and threw herself into it. I think for her it was
a way of working on her acting as well. She really wanted to be able to
bring out her scream and inner horror and go through the arc of the
victim. She latched onto the subtext I gave for her character really
Mila Joya spends most of the movie in the nude
and in slightly degrading positions. How do you make sure she feels
comfortable enough during such a shoot - also considering of course you
have been a similar situation as an actress in Maleficarum?
needed to be made in that way. As her character is based on a mix of de
Sade's characters, she would inevitably be placed in less than desirable
positions. While the portrayal, the end product, is depicted as
degrading, the acting itself was not. Mila was a good sport and we
laughed constantly on the set. It's actually funny to make a movie like
this because the characters are so contrary to the actors themselves.
I tend to
think that it's easier for me, as a woman, to make another woman feel
comfortable playing this kind of role. I've been through worse, I know
how it feels, I know how to describe it and talk about it, what the
woman is going through. That creates an instant communication in most
cases. The actress also has to have an open mind to doing these kinds of
scenes, so personality and background are big factors as well.
de la Croix is much more graphic and blunt in its depiction of
violence than either of your previous films, Sirwiñakuy
and Barbazul. How come, and which approach to violence do you
actually prefer as director as well as movie audience?
in Le Marquis needed to be on par with de Sade's violence; extreme,
drawn out, creative. So that's what I did. I don't feel as though many
directors truly want to portray de Sade's characters as they are,
victims and monsters. Without that the meaning of his works is deadened.
As a director I also tend to approach my violence from a psychological
standpoint. The violence in each specific film is driven by the
psychology of the characters. Also, if one cannot affect the psyche of
the audience, the violence is simply action without meaning.
an audience member, I tend to like really over-the-top bloody violence.
The movie Audition
comes to mind. There's a movie called Bottled Fools that I
like a lot for the violence as well.
can you tell us about critical and audience reception of Le Marquis
de la Croix so far?
great, lots of people like the movie and my uninhibited approach to de
writer C. Dean Andersson wrote me after seeing the movie to say this:
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
you manage to create such subtexts beneath the obvious surface story is
amazing. And you DID capture a truer feeling of DeSade’s writings than
any other film about him I’ve ever seen. His detached clinical
observations combined with the intimate interactions with his victim,
her hope at first that slowly fades as she realizes there is only death
waiting at the end, like Justine having thought the worst was over just
before she is struck dead, and while the chant of the people executing
nobles hovers in the background as a noble executes one of the
people… then that nicely done “don’t drink that tea!” ending…
Any future projects you'd
like to talk about?
working on finishing two scripts right now, Olalla,
based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Animal,
set in the 1930's in Bolivia. I'm location scouting this month for both. I
love location scouting because when I find the right place, my characters
come to life. Like Pinocchio.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook,
Thanks for the