Marie Kreutzer (‘Corsage’ writer and director): ‘Women and girls are still raised by society to please in order to be loved’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“Most artistic decisions are very intuitive and I couldn’t really explain it at that time. It’s just that I didn’t want it to be a classic period film,” reveals Austrian filmmaker Marie Kreutzer about her latest labor of love, the period drama “Corsage,” which boldly weaves the late 1800s with contemporary touches. For our recent webchat she adds, “I’m always kind of bold in my artistic decisions, because I never really think about if people will like it or not, because you cannot plan that. I’ve learned that you can only do the film you would like to see. That’s all you can do. Then you just have to say true to that vision you have.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

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“Corsage” is written and directed by Kreutzer, starring acclaimed Luxembourgish actress Vicky Krieps (“Phantom Thread”) as real-life historical figure Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie of Bavaria, colloquially known as Sisi, who became Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary from her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I on 24 April 1854. The film’s international ensemble features Austrian actor Florian Teichtmeister as her cold and distant Emperor husband, German actress Katharina Lorenz, Englishman Finnegan Oldfield and Northern Irishman Colin Morgan. The epic costume drama is set in 1877 Vienna as a restless Empress on the eve of her 40th birthday is desperate to break from the physical and emotional shackles of life as a constrained corset-wearing courtesan. The film is a razor-sharp exposé on a woman’s worth and agency and also the cult of celebrity, as the reluctant Empress rebels against her strict and suffocating royal duties at court, touring Europe while hatching a plan to protect her legacy as she sees fit.

The subversive period drama is the Austrian entry for Best International Feature Film at this year’s Oscars following its Un Certain Regard world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival where Krieps was awarded the Best Performance Prize. The film was also recently nominated at the 2022 European Film Awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress. It’s one-word title, the French word for “corset,” is of course symbolic for Sisi’s desire to free herself from the stifling captivity of duty and expectation that has befallen her. “It is such a big symbolic part of the film. This woman is living in a cage, basically, and is laced up every day,” Kreutzer explains. “Women and girls are still raised by society to please in order to be loved,” she says. “Being pleasing is really our way to be loved and also to get what we want to get, and that’s so sad, I think. That’s what the film is about.”

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