‘Corsage’ helmer Marie Kreutzer talks scandal

In at heartbreaking scene, “Corsage” director Marie Kreutzer broke down at Sweden’s Göteborg Film Festival when addressing a recent scandal involving one of the film’s actors. 

Florian Teichtmeister was charged with possession of child pornography. As mentioned by the festival’s artistic director, Jonas Holmberg, the Criminal Court of Vienna confirmed that authorities found 58,000 digital files featuring pornographic depiction of minors. 

“Of course, the shock must be much bigger for the people who knew him well. I didn’t – we shot together for two weeks. He was very busy, so I didn’t get to see him much before either. At the same time, I saw him – in the editing, in the post-production form. I had the feeling I knew him,” she said, admitting she was “overwhelmed” by the news. 

“Purchasing or using material like that is based on hurting children. It’s a crime. We didn’t know how to deal with this, of course. Before that happened, I just came back from Los Angeles. I landed and I got the news. It was Friday the 13th and I felt it was a whole new chapter for this film. From one moment to another, everything has changed.”  

The film, starring “Phantom Thread” breakout Vicky Krieps, focuses on the famous Empress Elisabeth of Austria, coming to terms with the passing of time. While critically acclaimed – and loved by audiences – “Corsage” was shortlisted for 2023 Oscars, it wasn’t nominated. 

“I had two weeks of this storm. Coming back here, when we were standing backstage and I saw the ending for the first time after that, I could hardly…I am sorry,” she said, bursting into tears. 

“It’s forever…It’s the same film but it can never be the same.” 

“He has done other films, he is a famous theatre actor in Austria, but we are in a crossfire now, because ‘Corsage’ has been so successful and everybody was putting this story together with the film. I had to talk about it, even though I am neither responsible nor could I have ever known that. I don’t wish for anyone to ever experience this.”

Kreutzer’s vulnerability moved the viewers gathered in Stora Teatern, with one audience member trying to loudly voice their support: “Your film is a masterpiece!”

During a conversation with Holmberg, Kreutzer also touched upon lighter subjects, including the advice she would have given to her younger self when she was making her feature debut “The Fatherless.”

“Be careful what you let others tell you. Don’t try to please everyone,” she said. 

The director also confirmed she was the one getting a tattoo in one of the film’s scenes. 

“We had two takes for that scene: My agent also did it. I thought: It will always be a part of my life anyway, so now I can also wear it on my body.”  

While Kreutzer already worked with Krieps before, on a 2015 film “We Used to Be Cool,” they always wanted to collaborate again. 

“At one point she said to me: ‘Why don’t we make a film about Sissi?’ I just laughed,” she said. 

She never wanted to make a movie about “a woman who is sold as a tourist magnet to tourists.”

“If you are only loved for how beautiful you are, for how young you are, and then you are not that beautiful young empress anymore, then what are you? Reading these old papers was like reading the yellow press today: ‘Has she gained weight, is she sick again?’ It was about a woman having to please in order to be loved. And that gets more difficult the older you get,” added Kreutzer.

“I was never really interested in period films, not as a viewer and not as a filmmaker. In Austria, everyone knows how [Sissi] became an empress. Everyone knows how she died. But what was she like when she was my age? That’s when she started to rebel, to free herself. That resonated with me. A woman who doesn’t want to meet expectations? That’s the story I could relate to.” 

FELIX VRATNY/Cannes Film Festival

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