Interview: Twin Sisters

In her mid-length competition film Twin Sisters, Norwegian director Mona Friis Bertheussen chronicles the lives of identical Chinese twins Alexandra and Mia, abandoned at birth and separated a matter of weeks later when adopted by Norwegian and US families.

Alexandra grows up in the village of Fresvik (population 234) located in the bucolic Norwegian countryside. Mia, meanwhile, goes to the bustling and industrial US city of Sacramento. They were never denied information about their familial ties, and the girls communicate regularly by letter and telephone. In Bertheussen's film, however, the time has come for them to be re-united after eight years of separation.

Alexandra's life in Norway seems uncomplicated. She roams the countryside unaccompanied, tends to the family horse and looks after mice that she finds in the family barn. This means that she has more time to think and talk about a sister whose life in the US is altogether more cluttered, defined by sleepovers and soccer practice. What's more, Mia is not allowed out on her own in Sacramento, such is her parents' concerns about her safety.

"Both of the girls are very bright and smart, and have strong characters, but I think their personalities may be a strong reflection of the society in which they live," comment Bertheussen. "Alexandra was more reflective on their situation, but of course she's walking around those tiny streets and she has the time and space to think and to write letters to Mia. And that's maybe something people can resonate with when they watch the film. It's not just about the twins. It's also about how you live your life, what does your everyday life have to do with the relationships that you have? Do you have time to remain in touch with people if you are always on the go?"

When the girls finally get together it is very touching. They squeal in anticipation of their imminent meeting and subsequently disappear together for the duration of the holiday, lost in a world that isn't defined by parental input. They swim, run, gambol and frolic, continually finding non-verbal ways to communicate with each other (Alexandra cannot speak English and Mia cannot speak Norwegian). Of course they have to go their separate ways again, but Bertheussen believes that her film is just the beginning of a project that could run years into the future. "It may be a lifelong thing but of course it depends on how the girls think about it when they get older. I think there could be amazing sequels when they are teenagers and grown up. The families told me that if I want to do another film with them then they will do it. That is the best feedback you can get."

Nick Cunningham
IDFAcademy Summer School announces tutors and selection April 30, 2015 | The IDFAcademy Summer School has announced its 2015 participants and tutors. Renowned filmmaker Victor Kosakovsky will be among the tutors this year.
IDFA goes to Cannes April 23, 2015 | IDFA staff will be present at the Cannes Film Festival as well as its market. Join us on the Croisette!
Call for Entry: IDFA Bertha Fund Classic April 14, 2015 | The IDFA Bertha Fund has announced the second selection round in 2015 for IBF Classic. The deadline for application is May 15.
IBF announces February selection April 7, 2015 | The IDFA Bertha Fund has concluded its February 2015 selection round. Eleven documentary projects will be supported through the Fund's classic scheme, while another six projects have been selected for the new category IBF Europe.
IDFA DocLab's Caspar Sonnen receives EDN Award 2015 March 23, 2015 | Last Friday, the 11th EDN Award was presented to IDFA's own Caspar Sonnen, for "his pioneering commitment to interactive documentary work".

Twitter

IDFAindustry @IDFAindustry 7 days ago
Doc_Meets is now in session at the Doc Corner @mdf_cannes - come join IDFA head of industry Adriek van Nieuwenhuyzen there!
Open
IDFAindustry @IDFAindustry 7 days ago
Cannes Marché du FIlm attendees: join IDFA's head of industry Adriek van Nieuwenhuyzen at Doc_Meets, 4-5pm at the Doc Corner! @mdf_cannes
Open
VPRO Oxfam Novib de Volkskrant BankGiro Loterij Fonds 21 Fonds 21