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May 6, 1998 2:00 AM
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Directing Dominatrix, Monika Treut's "Didn't Do It For Love"

Directing Dominatrix, Monika Treut's "Didn't Do It For
Love"

by Aaron Krach




As difficult as it is to find a documentary on the big screen (unless
it's about Woody Allen or Mohammed Ali), it's just as impossible to find
a contemporary German film. All the more reason to take note of Monika
Treut's, "Didn't Do It For Love," a new German documentary. About the
extraordinary Eva Norvind, a Norwegian-born, Mexican film starlet, New
York Dominatrix and Mother Theresa volunteer, Treut's sexy biopic
follows Norvind through a 90-minute, self-guided tour of herself.


Norvind's story offers enough transgressive images to fill several
films, but under Treut's watchful eye, the film stays focused on Norvind
as an example of fractured identity at the end of the millennium.
"Didn't Do It For Love" is being released by First Run Features.


indieWIRE: Your reviews came out this weekend. Do you care about them
anymore?


Monika Treut: Not really. Although we had a wonderful review in Variety
of all places. That is really cool. The guy who reviewed it really
understood the film. He said I was smart and that Eva Norvind isn't for
everyone but the film introduces her to you and then lets you make up
your own mind. It was very fair. Everyone else, like the New York Times
review tells the story of the film and then says, "Oh well. There are no
answers." What the fuck, think for yourself.


iW: "Didn't Do It For Love" includes footage from all over the world.
How long did it take to shoot?"


Treut: We couldn't shoot in one piece, because Eva is doing stuff all
over. So we shot over a period of one year. We shot a week in Mexico, a
week in Norway and a week in New York.


iW: What was your relationship with her during the making of the film.


Treut: I was her Dominatrix. I had to be. I didn't realize how difficult
it is to direct a Dominatrix. It's impossible. You have to top the
Dominatrix. It's something I don't enjoy that much anymore. I am more a
mellow person, but it was inevitable. I had to say, "Eva. Shut up. Sit
Down. Do This." My god, but it was worth it. We had a lot of arguments
but we also laughed a lot. She has a good sense of humor. I liked that
about her. She's slowly coming into her own. Now that she's a
grandmother, she's better.


iW: It was originally Eva's idea to make the movie, but was she involved
in post-production?


Treut: No. I didn't even give her the number of the editing room. She
was furious, but I finally gave her a tape on the final day before I
left New York. I knew it would take her weeks to be able to appreciate
it. She had a hard time looking at it. She was in turmoil because it's
like looking into a mirror. Then it helped her, because she started
showing it around to her friends and they all liked it very much. Then
in Berlin she was overjoyed. The Europeans were all over her and they
loved it, so she had a good time. It's great, because she became the
best P.R. person. I think it's changing her life for the better. She has
something new to think about.


iW: Did you ever figure out who the real Eva Norvind is?


Treut: She is probably a kid. She doesn't know herself. Since she
doesn't know who she is she will continue pushing limits and pursuing
different things. I'm not surprised, just imagine if your mother pushed
you to be a sexual dancer at age 15. And you are the main bread winner
of the family. It's kind of weird. At times she can be an exhibitionist.
She is fearless and funny to watch. She can also ask all the
inappropriate questions. She can be a pain.


iW: You started your career making fiction features. Are you happy
working in documentary?


Treut: At the moment I am. I find real life more interesting than
fiction. Because there is no more independent film. Everything is gone
corporate. Indie film is dead. I had one experience in Hollywood which
was really devastating. The film, "Erotique" with Lizzie Borden and
Claire Law. It was unbelievable. Every worst nightmare came true. It was
the first time I had a decent budget and I had to suffer for it. So I
said, "no more, goodbye." Now I work on very small budgets and make
documentaries. I'm going underground now, because I want to have fun and
I want to be independent. There are all these ideas in my head and I ask
if I can do it documentary style. Then I just go, instead of waiting
around and talking.


iW: You are one of the only living German directors who consistently
finds international distribution. What was the German reaction to this
film?


Treut: We opened in Berlin right after the Berlin Film Festival. The
reaction was good. I'm still the "lesbo, underground director." I'm an
outsider, but I have nice name recognition so I always get some money.
It's not the government money, but television money. Hamburg TV does
some risky stuff but they are being weary of this one. In Berlin there's
a lot of international distributor interest, but my producer is taking
care of that stuff.


iW: How did you get started as a director and a director of explicitly
sexual films?


Treut: I didn't go to film school. I started writing theory and by
accident became a director. I wrote my Ph.D thesis and it got published
in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It was about the Marquis de Sade.
I'm intellectually interested in S&M. I had my phase of being into S&M
clubs and stuff, but it's too much work. You have to schlep too many
clothes around. Now I schlep a camera around. I don't want to be
schlepping collars and leather and all this stuff around.


iW: What do you think of the New York Times calling you a, "German
Lesbian Feminist Filmmaker?"


Treut: I don't care. It's just stupid that they have to continue to use
these labels. For me as a European it's a different story. For me being
gay is not such a big deal, especially not in Germany, Scandinavia or
Holland. It's a big deal in France in some ways, because people are not
"out" there. I've always been out in Germany. In this country it's so
political. Everyone knew Fassbinder was gay and nobody gave a shit. With
Rosa Von Praunheim and Ulrika Ottinger, we are decadent queers. Instead
of being in the street marching up and down we are making our films.
Once in a while we have a gay subject, but then we don't.

TAGS: Interviews
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