In Berlinale Film ‘Paradises of Diane,’ a Woman Abandons Her Baby but Finds Herself: ‘We Don’t Want to Judge Her’

Rexa Vella

In Berlinale Film ‘Paradises of Diane,’ a Woman Abandons Her Baby but Finds Herself: ‘We Don’t Want to Judge Her’

“Paradises of Diane,” which premiered in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival, came out of an exploration of the “dark side of maternity” and the role of the mother in society, director Carmen Jaquier tells Variety.

The film, which was directed with Jan Gassmann, starts with Diane abandoning her new-born baby at a maternity clinic in Zurich, and heading to the seedy Spanish seaside resort Benidorm, without telling anyone. Here she befriends an elderly woman, Rose, and the two of them form a tentative bond.

Jaquier says the idea for the film came from a conversation with a friend, who confessed that she had become very depressed after the birth of her daughter. The woman hadn’t spoken about this to her friends or family. After Jaquier had written the first draft of the script, Gassmann joined the project and the two of them started to talk to women about their experiences of giving birth and motherhood.

When writing the script Jaquier says they were “super connected” to Diane and her experience, but when she and Gassmann started to pitch the project to film funders and received feedback about the subject of a mother abandoning her baby they “realized how violent it could be for other people and that they couldn’t have any empathy for her.”

After that they understood that there would be some people who wouldn’t be able to accept Diane’s decision. “We had to rethink and rebuild from that moment but for us it was super important to be straight with this character,” Jaquier says.

Gassmann adds: “The decision to leave a child poses questions to yourself such as: Would we be able to do it? What happened to the father? Is he all alone? So, we try to work with these questions, but at the same time not to have a moral view on it. The starting point was that she does that, she’s leaving and she’s in this situation, and we don’t want to judge that.”

They told Dorothée De Koon, the actor who plays Diane, that it is a “very courageous decision on her part to protect the others from how she is at the moment, and try to go home whenever she is ready,” Gassmann says.

“Paradises of Diane” Courtesy of 2:1 Film

In the film, landscapes can be both external and internal, Gassmann says, referring to a line from Agnès Varda in “The Beaches of Agnès,” when Varda says: “If we opened people up, we’d find landscapes.” So, we see Diane exploring her feelings, sexuality and identity, and this is reflected in the landscapes she travels through. On the journey across Europe by bus Diane starts to feel anonymous, and is able to “disappear” into the crowds in Benidorm, “a place where she seeks to rebuild herself,” Gassmann says. Opposite Rose’s apartment, which overlooks the sea, is an island, which mirrors Diane’s feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Diane begins to recognize that there is something of herself in Rose. “Sometimes in life you have this special meeting with someone who could be a part of you or you in a few years or in the past,” Jaquier says.

“Paradises of Diane” Courtesy of 2:1 Film

Through her relationship with Rose, Diane sees that despite her decision to leave her baby there is still a nurturing side to her character. “It was very important to us that Diane is still capable of love, still capable of taking care of someone. So, with Rose there is this possibility for her to maybe understand something, but it’s not enough and she has to move on, to take a decision at the end. But just for a few weeks with this old woman, who has experienced something quite similar to her, there was like this question of superposition in life: That you are all the people you were during your life. We are much more than the person we are in the moment. There is some connection between you now and you in the past and future, even if you don’t know that in the present moment.”
 
 
 
 
 

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