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TIFF Women Directors: Meet Caroline Link

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood September 7, 2013 at 11:00AM

Caroline Link was born in Bad Nauheim, Germany. She studied at the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF). Her films include Beyond Silence (96), Pünktchen und Anton (99), Nowhere in Africa (01), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, A Year Ago in Winter (08), and Exit Marrakech (13).
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Exit Marrakech
Exit Marrakech

Caroline Link was born in Bad Nauheim, Germany. She studied at the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF). Her films include Beyond Silence (96), Punktchen und Anton (99), Nowhere in Africa (01), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, A Year Ago in Winter (08), and Exit Marrakech (13).

Exit Marrakech is playing as part of the Special Presentation program at TIFF.

Women and Hollywood: Please give us your description of your film playing at TIFF.

Caroline Link: Exit Marrakech is a story of a young man, Ben, 17, who visits his unknown father, Heinrich, in Marrakech, Morocco. Annoyed by his father's attitude towards him and the country they are both visiting, the boy runs away with a young Moroccan prostitute, he meets in a night club. Together with her he tries to experience the 'real' Morocco and follows her into her village in the Atlas mountains. Heinrich is forced to start looking for his son and when he finally finds him in the desert in the middle of nowhere, the two start an adventurous journey through a foreign world, that eventually brings them closer to each other.

WaH: What drew you to this script? If you are the writer too, why did you write this script?

CL: I felt a huge curiosity for Morocco. I had visited this country 22 years ago together with my boyfriend and had spent the most inspiring and fascinating weeks there. The Arab world feels foreign, dangerous and at the same time seducing to us. We are full of prejudices and fears that were given to us from the Western world by the media. By writing the screenplay, I wanted to understand the inner culture of the Moroccan people and the Arab world a little better. I wanted to show the beauty as well the precious differences between our society and theirs. In the story, my protagonist learns a lot about the value of family, responsibility for himself and others through exposing himself to this culture.

WaH: What was the biggest challenge?

CL: Shooting in Morocco is quite a challenge. You find a lot of qualified staff there, but to shoot in public is, like in all Arab countries, not easy. Very often, people don't want to be filmed, especially women, so you have the choices: either you clear the streets and set up every public scene with extras and paid people or you shoot with a hidden camera, which makes your life quite exciting and is really dangerous. We didn't have a huge budget, so we tried both ways. We just didn't have the money to shoot a market scene in Marrakech with 400 extras. Sometimes the hidden camera worked; sometimes we were screamed at and kicked out of the place.

WaH: What advice do you have for other female directors?

CL: Women tend to worry a lot about their perception. We want to be nice people. But it's not always possible to be calm, sweet and understanding when you are in a leading position or if you really try to get something that you need for your creative idea. I had to learn, that it is ok for a woman to WANT something, to be the boss and to sometimes even be aggressive. These are considered to be male characteristics and men are adored if they are demanding, pushy and self-secure. I don't want to have to worry about that.

WaH: What are the biggest challenges and or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?

CL: I really do think that we need to protect our copyrights! I don't understand the younger generation who asks for free access to music, books and films with the internet. This is an attitude that shows the lack of respect for the creative work of artists. I am so willing to pay for a song I love, a book I want to read and to buy a ticket for a movie I want to see. I don't let my daughter download movies and music on illegal sites. How can movies be financed in the future, if they can be downloaded the day after they opened in any country? How can producers make any money with them? We need an awareness and international laws to protect the copyright of artists.

WaH: Name your favorite female directed film and why.

CL: An Angel at My Table from Jane Campion. I think it was her first or second movie. It's beautiful and painful at the same time. Poetic and truthful about life and the desire to express and heal yourself through art. It is a very intelligent and emotional movie.

This article is related to: Caroline Link, Toronto Film Festival, Women Directors, Exit Marrakech