Synopsis: Ilinka is 14 years old. She has been living in Switzerland for a year with her Moldavian mother and aunt. Ilinka just gave birth to a boy. Ilinka‘s mother has heard about a box where unwanted babies can be deposited.
Is this film based on a true story?
I read a newspaper an article about a baby who was found in a baby hatch and was very touched by the story. I had never heard about a baby hatch before, but this place gave me something to think about and to reflect on the secret stories of the women coming to put their baby there. I started to imagine what motivates a mother to do that and how was the last moment that she had with her child. I did a lot of research to be as realistic as possible. I spoke with social workers and nurses and read many ethological studies about child abandonment in order to understand why women would decide to give their babies to other people. I was very touched by these women and by their strength of their action.
Can you elaborate on the baby hatch a bit more?
The baby hatch is a sort of window with a warm bed behind it. It is located at a hospital. The person can open it, put the baby in the bed, and close it. When the window is closed, a system locks it and two minutes after that, an alarm notifies a nurse who comes to take the baby. In Switzerland, there is one baby hatch in a small town nearby Zurich. Switzerland signed the convention on children’s rights, which stipulates that a child has the right to know his or her parents. So, this baby hatch operates at the border of legality because it allows an anonymous abandonment.
You shot this film like a documentary. Was that always the plan when writing the story?
Yes. It was essential for me to be as realistic as possible. With my movie, I would like to bring actual social problems to the fore. That is why I find it important to establish a realistic framework. As filmmaker, I consider it my responsibility to expose the audience to uncomfortable and not well known topics. By its private und anonymous character, the abandonment of a child is one of them.
What directors and films influenced the mood and the style of the film?
I was very influenced by Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold and by The Child and The Son directed both by Jean-Perre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, as well as 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu. In the film, the mother of the child says the baby will receive Swiss citizenship. What country is the family from?
The women are from Moldavia. They speak Romanian. It was important for me to choose a country at the border of Europe and add the dimension of economic migration to the story. In Moldavia, many parents emigrated in order to earn money.
How difficult was the casting process to achieve that?
I wanted to work with non-professional actresses and with native Romanian-speaking people. To be as authentic as possible, I did not work with synchronized voice. In order to find the three actresses, I did a lot of castings. This also allowed me to develop the staging and test my screenplay. I was lucky that the Moldavian and Romanian community in Switzerland helped me. I finally found my main actress, Roxane Delcroix, two weeks before the shooting time. It was very gratifying to work with Roxane because she is very conscientious, responsive to my propositions, and creative. It also was quite difficult to find babies. Fortunately, I found fabulous parents, who were very enthusiastic about the movie, and stand by my ideas, even though the baby had to cry quite a long time during the shooting. I am very thankful.
How many short films have you made before this one?
This is my first one. What advice would you give to a filmmaker who is about to make their first short film?
First of all, I think it is very important to tell a story that touches you very deeply and to put a lot of your emotion in the movie. You have to give something from you to the audience. In order to do that, you have to put yourself in danger. Secondly, you have to be radical and not do something to please other people.
Why is the subject matter in this film close to you?
This story is close to my heart and I feel a responsibility to bring it to the public. I became aware of the bad regard by society of women who decide to abandon their newborn. European society does not understand the reasons why a woman gives up a child. That is why I decided to give time to Ilinka to be with her child and to let her make her own decision.
What's next for you?
I plan to write a feature film about childhood, creativity and powerlessness. In the meantime, I’m preparing for the shooting of another short movie.