Kadri Kõusaar is an Estonian novelist and film director. She has also worked as a radio DJ and television host, and has a university
degree in Spanish language and literature. Kõusaar made her feature
debut with “Magnus” in 2007, which was the first Estonian film ever to be
selected for the Cannes Film Festival. It was awarded the “Un Certain Regard” prize. Her second feature “The Arbiter,” (2013) premiered
internationally in the East of the West competition at the Karlovy Vary
International Film Festival. (Press materials)
Describe the film for us in your own words.
a film about a Elsa, a middle-aged woman who feels increasingly frustrated and
trapped. She tries to get out of this situation but takes a step too
drew you to this story?
KK: It’s harrowingly realistic and very
do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
KK: I hope the audience will empathize with
the mother’s character and that the film will make them think of love — or the lack of it — in their own family.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making
of the story takes place in one house — Elsa takes care of her comatose son and
cannot get out of the house much. Neither can we. It was a challenge
cinematographically, to film everything in a confined place. But that was
inherent in the story, and actually gave it its unique atmosphere.
challenge was the fact that I had to be away from my eight month old son. I had
never been physically apart from him for such a long time.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights
into how you got the film made.
KK: The film is supported by the Estonian Film Institute, Estonian Cultural Endowment and Estonian Public Broadcasting. It is produced by the independent production company Meteoriit, who invited me to direct the film based on the script, which won the national screenplay competition last spring in Estonia.
W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
KK: Some viewers and critics think that I’m very similar to my main characters — that that they are sort of my alter egos. Actually films are a way for me to explore different characters and their motivations — my novels are more like a self-analysis.
W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?
KK: The best advice usually comes from my own mother who is truly supportive, brave and strong — like a lioness fighting for her cubs. To sum it up, “Don’t give up! You can do it! The dogs bark but the caravan moves forward.”
I don’t even remember the worst advice. It was probably something along the lines of, “You better not take risks, stay where you are, never travel anywhere, etc.”
What advice do you have for other female directors?
KK: Don’t give up! You can do it!
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
KK: It’s hard to pick a single favorite. I’d say “The Night Porter” by Liliana Cavani, and “Ratcatcher” by Lynne Ramsay. Both are very nuanced, enigmatic and powerful films.