The Girl, the Mother and the Demons


Director Suzanne Osten, Sweden 2015

“When I was a child no one understood what I had gone through, and absolutely not I myself.”

Swedish director and filmmaker Suzanne Osten is working on a film entitled The Girl, the Mother and the Demons, based on her book The Girl, the Mother and the Rubbish. At our festival we are going to show selected scenes from this film. Here is what Suzanne Osten has written about it:

“When I was a child no one understood what I had gone through, and absolutely not I myself.” This story is about a child’s infinite love and loyalty toward her mother, no matter what the mother does. Trapped in their apartment with her psychotic mother, 8-year-old Ti makes the decision that she must be the one to take on the battle against her mother’s demons, the demons that control their lives. We can call it a social reality thriller for children.

Does this story sound frightening? Yes, as adults we find it so. But should we ban a film that brings us close to a girl and a mother who see ghosts? My answer is No. After having written a children’s book and directed a play on this theme, I know a lot about how powerful and magnetic it can be in a fictional setting.

Moreover, I think it is safe to say that children share among themselves the perception that we adults can be quite “quirky”. They love us at the same time as they see our weaknesses. They see how we have our share of demons, addictions, passions …
Children, however, are dependent on us adults: that we can cope. Separation from us is, as we know, a long, sometimes violently difficult process.

Children want to understand us adults – save us – and move on with their lives and into their own adulthood. We adults need good childhood depictions for children and for ourselves. We need to put constant work into understanding what we went through as children. We know that we talk a lot about childhood, we experience childhood, and we have ideas about children and about what children should have. We go on like this our entire lives.

Now I’m making a film for children, for teenagers, and for adults – in that order. And I have some arguments about why we should help each other with what is most upsetting for us. It is my conviction that when children see situations in fiction that resemble what they have to live with no matter what, or things they hear about others’ real lives, it is not dangerous for them.