March 2015

"She's Lost Control"

by Anja Marquardt, opens Mai 14, 2015

Wikipedia defines 'sexual surrogates' as 'sex workers who perform sexual acts in a therapeutic context', adding that 'the method is controversial.' Ronah works as a sexual surrogate, teaching inhibited men what they fear most: intimacy. Her clients are referred to her by a psychotherapist. She and one of their number casually make the bed where they will sleep together; later on she lets him show her his new business idea on his laptop as if they were best friends. Such scenes are interspersed with hotel hallways, claustrophobic shots of Manhattan’s urban canyons, hassles with workmen, cries for help from Ronah’s brother she chooses to ignore, even as he tells her that their mother has disappeared. It is impossible to identify when exactly she loses control. She's clearly not been able to get a handle on her new, auto-aggressive client Johnny with his soft voice, his intelligence, his occasional mocking remarks. She starts to fall in love with him instead. Without any trace of voyeurism, Anja Marquardt’s impressively complex, stylistically precocious directorial debut observes how the line between professional and private intimacy becomes gradually blurred (Christoph Terhechte, Forum Catalogue)

Anja Marquardt will be in Germany for the relaese of her film!
Filmscreenings followed with an discussion will be held:
Preview: May 12th at 8pm at Abaton Kino, Hamburg
At the day of the release, May 14th, at 8.15pm at fsk am Oranienplatz, Berlin

Anja Marquardt on her film: Professional intimacy and subculture
A deep-rooted fascination with characters who live on the peripheries of society; a reportage about a Japanese geriatrics facility that uses robots not only to lift and feed patients, but also to 'caress' them; the Kurt Tucholsky poem, 'Eyes in the City'.
In the process of developing SHE'S LOST CONTROL these mental images began to overlap. I had read about and began to research the little-known subculture of presentday surrogate partner therapy - trained clinicians who teach their clients how to be intimate, often resulting in sexual intercourse. There is something fascinating and unsettling and deeply moving about this shifting of perspectives. It puts a magnifying glass on the basic human need to connect. And it made me think of 'professional intimacy' in my own life that increasingly permeates all work-related, urban interactions. I was intrigued by the idea of telling a story that pushes this professional intimacy to an extreme. Ronah, the protagonist of SHE'S LOST CONTROL, is professionally intimate with her clients, on an emotionally and physically intense level. She is fiercely independent and leads a seemingly stable life. The inevitable blurring of lines is what I set out to explore.

Interview with the director

Why did you choose this subject?

This goes back to what drove me to become a filmmaker, apart from the love of film and being in great awe of the medium, it’s the window that I’m allowed to have into these other worlds, into other people’s lives that I get to research; that’s just the biggest gift of all. When I first read about surrogate partner therapy, a few years ago, initially I thought it was a relic from the 1970s, which was when Masters and Johnson [Gynaecologist William H. Masters and sexologist Virginia E. Johnson, a who carried out pioneering research into human sexuality in the US during the 1950s and ‘60s –Ed.] first began using it as a therapeutic tool; and then I realised that the field is still very much alive. In Holland, some cases are even covered by health insurance. It took me a year or so to gain access to the community. Naturally, there were barriers. There’s a lot of misinformation online. But I was persistent and suddenly I was talking to all these fascinating individuals. Brooke Bloom and I were able to sit down with Vena Blanchard, president of IPSA, the International Professional Surrogates Association.

What was the casting process like?

Casting this film, especially the lead role, was a journey. My casting director, Allison Twardziak, and I had a real sense of how Ronah should be. We looked at a lot of up-and-coming actresses in New York City, but it wasn’t so easy to find her because she needed to be mature enough to carry the role, yet independent and fearless enough to, well, be on set fully nude. There’s this thing called a 'nudity rider' that’s an important part of the contract; I had to convince people that it wasn’t my intention to make porn or be gratuitous. At some point I realised: we have to either limit the nudity to 'above the waist' or cast an actress who doesn’t have anagent. I was prepared to go for the latter, but then Brooke happened. I have to thank Robert Longstreet, who plays C.T., for introducing me to her. Suddenly, I saw the movie. Brooke was working in Los Angeles at the time and then was scheduled to be back in New York for a play – I ended up pushing back the shoot for six months so I could work with her.

How did you find the visual style of the movie?
My director of photography, Zack Galler, and I set out to create images that are naturalistic, yet infused with tension and darkness. We used available light whenever possible and there are some longer scenes in the film where we just let life in front of the camera unfold, without the restriction of formal boundaries. Yet the rhythm of the story demanded a visual arc. There is an acceleration happening as Ronah’s life unravels. For the sessions between Ronah and her clients, especially when she sees Johnny, I wanted to focus on the immediacy of what’s going on between the characters. We used a lot of handheld for those scenes. Zack and I spent a fair amount of time together in prep and although we had never collaborated before, we found our language pretty quickly. Looking back, there is a sense of freedom in how we shot this film. In making my first feature, I was hoping for that.

Anja Marquardt was born in Berlin in 1980. She studied at the University of the Arts in Berlin and at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU). She took part in the 2010 Berlinale Talent Campus. SHE'S LOST CONTROL is her first feature film.

USA 2014. Format: DCP, colour. Running time: 90 min. Language format: English with German subtitles. Director, Screenwriter: Anja Marquardt. Director of photography: Zachary Galler. Production design: David Meyer. Sound: Alistair Farrant. Composer: Simon Taufique. Sound design: Martin Frühmorgen. Editor: Nick Carew. Producer: Kiara C. Jones, Anja Marquardt; Mollye Asher. Cast: Brooke Bloom (Ronah), Marc Menchaca (Johnny), Dennis Boutsikaris (Dr. Alan Cassidy), Laila Robins (Irene), Tobias Segal (Christopher), Roxanne Day (Claire), Ryan Homchick (Andro), Robert Longstreet (C. T.). Production company: SLC Film, New York (USA), in co-production with Rotor Film, Potsdam (Germany). World premiere: 9 February 2014, Berlinale Forum.