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About this film

Dream images. Reality. What is it that Mikel Guillen shows us in his film Mütter? He creates peaceful images over the course of a mere ten minutes. A woman is sleeping, with a slight smile on her lips. There are clouds towering over her, over us, the viewers. Are we seeing her dreams? Are we seeing mind images? Guillen uses ambient sound in order to reinforce the idea of peace. And yet, he disrupts it occasionally, startling us by cutting the peaceful sounds and confronting us with absolute silence. Disorientation. A search for reference points…and the image of a teenage boy appears, shown in beautiful low lighting, illuminating the subject of Mütter’s dream and asking us to ponder over the connection between mother and child, motherhood and childhood, and the bonds they create.

Nadin Mai (tao films)

Interview with the Director
Mikel, the first thing that struck me about your film is its aspect ratio. A 4:3 aspect ratio is no longer the standard format for films, which is sad. I grew up with it and I believe that it can create strong feelings nowadays if used properly because we’re so used to 16:9 now. Why did you choose this specific format?

You are right, it is indeed sad that is no longer the standard. I wanted to explore restraining the frame. I believe that it can have a deeper connection and since the film is about dreams, i thought it could help restraining and therefore bring closer the subject in a more detailed manner.

Mütter can be interpreted in different ways. I see a dreaming woman. I don’t see all her dreams, but I see a dreaming woman. There is a sense of peace, but also of a slight menace, I find, because of the darkness and the uncertainty about what is happening on screen.

Thank you for your comments. I believe that motherhood is the ultimate creation. The peace, the revolt, the chaos is all part of the mystery of life and the mystery of creation. Darkness also speaks of the hidden, the unseen that might be able to be explored in different manners not only through images but sounds. When combined they can create an unsettling feeling, i believe and hope.

As a German, the title of your film carries a specific meaning. The dreaming woman is, perhaps, a dreaming mother; perhaps we’re speaking of motherhood in your film. Is there perhaps an ideal in your film? An homage?

It is a dreaming mother and a body that carried a child. The representation of the ultimate love, maternal love and an object of desire and fear as Julia Kristeva wrote. My inspiration was duality at its best, meaning fear and love. Also, Mütter in German is a word that most English native speakers know as meaning “mother” but the title is not mother so there is a discrepancy between disconnection and connection that I find very interesting.

There is one scene in the film in which you deafen and disorientate the viewer by cutting the ambient sound of birds abruptly. We no longer have a reference point apart from the image of clouds. Are we dreaming?

This could be the beginning of the dream. I find dreams to be abruptly starting and ending as well. The violent move was not only intended but its roots rely on oniric movements that can come and go as they do in dreams.

The film relies heavily on the concept of the night, of obscurity. I don’t think there is a scene in which you use the light of the day. What happens happens at night or at dusk. What role does darkness play in Mütter, in particular, but also in your filmmaking in general?

Darkness and obscurity has a very potent element to them, besides the mystery. It has, at least to me, a very poetic vulnerability, it has many meanings to the naked soul. I find it very inspiring to be driven by the night, the unknown, darkness cannot exist without light and how those elements play a sort yin and yang in our lives.

I know that you’re currently working on new projects. Can you tell me a little bit more about them?

Well, i just finished Intermission, a suspension of thought. I am working on several projects at the same time, one is Atonal (2018) is a contemplative study of male asexuality. It will be shot in black and white. All these projects are meant to be shown in an installation setting and have curatorial staging. Further, there is my feature film Mahdi, hopefully soon in production, and a new collaboration with Scott Barley that we will be announcing soon.

Thank you very much for this interview.