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With her second feature film, Claudia Rorarius establishes her vision as one of the most daring and courageous in contemporary auteur cinema. Touched is a delicate, deep, passionate and yet terrifying film that brings to life a love story that will hardly fade from the viewer's mind.
How important is it for you to normalize sexual desire between a disabled person and an overweight woman? What motivated you to make this film?
I have never seen this specific topic portrayed on the big screen, I have only found some documentaries and works of fiction, but in general very few over the last 10 years. Yes, I already had the idea 10 years ago.
My father was disabled, so I have a certain view on disability because I watched him being disabled since I was 14, which was the time when I grew up as a woman. I had a quite tough relationship with my dad, and I decided to portray part of his personality in the male character of the film, especially his anxiety, his anger. The female character, on the other hand, I’ve been inspired by the self-portraits of Jen Davis and the way she exposed herself by immortalizing everyday gestures. I was super lucky in finding the actress because Paul Kooiker, a Dutch photographer, who was my key reference for portraying my character in the movie, told me that he’d had a shooting with an amazing woman from Iceland. I looked on Instagram and I suddenly felt she was the right woman. She was not an actress though but after she read the script, she was completely convinced.
The choice of most shots seems designed to glorify the special forms of your protagonists, managing to create magnificent compositions with their bodies. Can you tell me what led you to make this aesthetic choice?
What I was looking for was an aesthetic look that emphasized the physical touching, either from a medical or sexual point of view. Over the years I’ve collected a lot of photographs that echoed my specific style. I think Touched is aesthetically the closest film to my photographic work as well. For me it’s important to maintain a natural approach, I try to keep the image as pure as possible and to minimize the possibilities and this, in a certain sense, helped me to go over the edge in terms of what I haven’t seen so far. I was trying to do what I’d never seen on the big screen and sometimes I even wondered: “Why has nobody done that?”.
What lies behind the insistence on erotic scenes? What impact did you want to convey to the audience?
First, I tried to portray the perspective of the female character. I was bored by all the sex scenes in films where the man plays the active part and the woman the passive one. You see a lots of the female anatomy in films, but what do I want to see? I was intrigued to see how does it work for Alex and how does he want to be touched, so I focused on male genitalia. Usually in sex scenes everything runs smoothly, but for a disabled person this is not the case because he has to figure out a whole new way to approach sexuality, and the film precisely explores this process.
How did you come up with the development of Alex's character? Why does he become so fierce against Maria?
The film take place while he was doing the whole program to deal with a new physicality, and that was the moment when he had to accept it. In general, people who have these sorts of accidents are not that angry and depressed as Alex, but as I was using my own knowledge about my father who was a super frustrated and very angry man, I took inspiration from that. It was a tough childhood with him but now I’m happy that I can use his darkness and hand it over to Alex. Even Stavros (the actor who plays Alex) sometimes complained about the fact that he is always angry, but I had to portray this negative and destroying character, this is how I lived the accident personally.
Do you already have a next feature in mind?
I actually cannot say too much, but I can tell you that I’m working on three projects. One has been shot in the US and it deals with another theme. The others two must still be shot, and one of them is going to be a sci-fi that takes place in the near future. That’s all I can tell you.