Lina Maria Mannheimer • Director of Mating
“It’s not a film about an experiment, but an experiment that became a film”
by Jan Lumholdt
- Focusing in on “digital natives” and their methods of human interaction, Lina Maria Mannheimer’s Mating presents an anthropological collage, largely created by her filmed subjects themselves
In The Ceremony, as well as its short “prequel”, The Contract, director Lina Maria Mannheimer explored the world of octogenarian BDSM connoisseur Catherine Robbe-Grillet, whose decadently sophisticated universe could put any shade of grey to shame, with red cheeks to match. In Mannheimer’s new documentary, Mating [+see also:
interview: Lina Maria Mannheimer
film profile], which opened at the Göteborg Film Festival, the director explores a very different part of the game, as she follows two young people through the virtual and sometimes literal jungle of the endless and boundless platforms of social media.
Cineuropa: You set out to document a phenomenon of our times. What were your working methods?
Lina Maria Mannheimer: I would interview my two subjects once a week via Skype, and they would film themselves. We started in January 2017 and finished in January 2018. The shortest interview was 40 minutes long, and the longest one was four-and-a-half hours, so we would get a few hours per week, in all 200 hours. I knew most of their whereabouts, and then I gave them different assignments to challenge themselves with as we went along. Then I asked them for their logs from different social-media platforms. So if something interesting seemed to have happened the previous weekend, I could closely monitor the events and then reconstruct them, as verbatim as possible. But there are some real-time interactions as well from time to time. And the content is true.
Naomi and Edvin get in touch, they meet and they fall for each other, but not necessarily at the same time. Was this all out of your hands?
I was no matchmaker, and they had a rocky ride. And I had no idea that they would meet so soon, or at all, even. I wanted two different individuals whose interactions I would follow when they ventured into this infinite and ultra-liberal world of possibilities offered by the digital platforms. And I wanted digital natives, people born straight into a world of broadband digital media. I wanted to discuss topics like relationships, friendship, love, sexuality, ideas on building a family and so on. And I would give up a lot of control, as my subjects would do most of the work, including filming all the material, which was never mine to work with until they uploaded it to my server. I mean, they could easily have “misplaced” something along the way… At the same time, I got to “meet” them every week, regardless of where they were, or if they were sick in bed or whatever, and hand them their assignments. In this respect, I got a very solid consistency.
So what kind of film did it become in the end?
An anthropological fiction collage, focusing on two seemingly ordinary twenty-somethings as they use these modern technologies during one year, with the question “What happens?” That’s my movie. It’s not a film about an experiment, but an experiment that became a film.
Is there any relationship between your previous film, The Ceremony, and Mating?
There are many links, I think, but I can’t articulate them to you at this point. At least it was easier to pitch. Last time, I wanted to make a film about a woman in her eighties who staged very sophisticated sadomasochistic ceremonies. Some backers were understandably taken aback. This time around, I presented an idea about two kids in the dating game. The response I got was, “Of course we should do this. I want to know what they’re up to; these could be my own kids.” And the “kids” themselves, I sensed, felt that they were contributing to a greater cause. This is their life, with all the challenges that go with it. I think they have been very, very brave.
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