Alexandra-Therese Keining was born in Lomma, Sweden, and is based in Stockholm. A writer, director and novelist, her feature films are “Hot Dog” and “Kiss Me,” which was a Breakthrough Selection at AFI Fest. (Press materials)
W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.
ATK: In “Girls Lost,” fairy tale is mixed with a brutal depiction of what it is like to grow up today seen from a girl’s perspective. The film highlights the different conditions for girls and boys through asking questions about gender and identity.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
ATK: The state of gender fluidty, among other interesting issues that the story deals with. I wanted to examine the limits of self and the body. In the portrayal of the main character Kim, I [explore how] identity and gender [are in] perpetual motion — constantly changing and negotiable.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
ATK: Achieving the accurate level of special effects to create a dream-like universe and state. The casting of all the young actors and, in the process, finding small, similar physical details between them. Neither of the actors had ever acted before, and they had very challenging scenes. They brought a fantastic energy and curiosity to the set everyday.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
ATK: If every frame of your film already exists in you head, nothing should stop you from getting it made in reality.
W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
ATK: That as a female director, I am only able to do rom coms.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
ATK: After my last film ”Kiss Me,” I got offered various romantic dramas, but I really got fascinated by the magical realism in ”Girls Lost” right away. There has never been a story like ”Girls Lost” before. It’s truly unique and the screenplay really challenges people’s preconceptions on many levels. All I want as a director is to ask questions and to explore daring situations, and I really don’t care if it makes people uncomfortable. Which is exactly why I felt I really needed to do the film, and all the negative apprehensions from investors in the beginning just boosted that notion. It took about two years to finance the film and a lot of stubborn determination from the producers and myself.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
ATK: There are so many fantastic and unique movies made by female directors, so it’s hard to pick one! “Orlando” by Sally Potter made a huge impact on me when I saw it as a teenager. I was about fifteen and I was truly fascinated by the novel by Virginia Woolf. The film is a very brave and unapologetic experiment that challenges structure and the viewer’s mind through imagery. That blew my mind.