The Good Life premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. Directed by Eva Mulvad, the film documents “How do you cope with being broke after having lived a life of luxury and privilege? This is the fundamental question facing spoiled Anne Mette and her mother, a once-rich family now living off a small pension and struggling to adapt to their new situation in a coastal Portuguese hamlet. A Grey Gardens for the current financial era, The Good Life is a character study at turns touching and frustrating, but ultimately poignant.“
Interview with director Eva Mulvad of “The Good Life”
VIMOOZ: What brought you to make this documentary?
EM: I did Enemies of Happiness (a documentary following the first Afghan woman to enter parliament), and it was very successful, and I thought I would use that space of success to create another film. I was interested in having a novel and complex charcater rather than a topic-driven or journalistic subject. I heard a radio piece about Mette and Anne Beckmann, and I was drawn into their universe– they had a unique, royal way of speaking. I contacted the woman who did the radio piece and she introduced me to them.
VIMOOZ: Were they on board right away to make the film or did they take some persuading?
EM: It only took five minutes to persuade them– they were on board right away. They are more open in a decadent way, rather than being protective like some wealthy people can be. They also understood that there would be not so beautiful parts in the film about them. There are difficult things that they deal with in the film, especially the daughter.
VIMOOZ: How long did the film take to make?
EM: Three years altogether. It was three months of shooting– visiting from Copenhagen to shoot in Portugal.
VIMOOZ: How was this production experience different from other documentaries you’ve made?
EM: This production was different in terms of getting into their rhythm. When you go abroad to shoot, it’s a lot of work, but with them, they don’t work, so I had to negotiate with them and deal with my own impatience. Most people in modern society are used to efficiency– work before pleasure, but for them it’s the other way around. These women challenge the mentality of work in our society, so it was a challenge.
VIMOOZ: Did you enjoy shooting in Portugal? Was it interesting to film in the Beckmann villa (where they used to live)?
EM: Portugal is beautiful, and the people are friendly and very educated. It was a pleasure, especially since I was coming from Afghanistan. But it was tough to be with them. It’s difficult to be with people who are stuck in a situation, and it’s hard to help them, since Portugal also has a lot of unemployment.
Yes, we went to the villa, which is now offices, and it was very interesting to see it.
VIMOOZ: Were you trying to make a certain statement with this film about the economic state of Europe and much of the world, or were you simply exploring these individuals?
EM: Money and economics are interesting aspects of their story– these women reflect on a broader perspective in Europe and here in the US. We were all born into a wealthy life and society, and we took it for granted. And that’s what happened to them. You can look at the film as a simple moral of taking the present for granted, and not feeling entitled to have wealth.
VIMOOZ: Is this your first time having a film at Tribeca? How do you feel being here?
EM: Yes, and it’s so nice to be here– both the festival and the city. It’s all so interesting, and there are so many people to meet.
VIMOOZ: How has the film been received in Europe?
EM: It’s in the theatres; it’s done incredibly well, which is unusual for a documentary film. It’s a one of a kind story, people get drawn to it because of the unique characters. And people can take different things from it, which was my ambition. It can meet you on different levels: money, family, upbringing, etc.
VIMOOZ: What other festivals has it been to/ which is it going to?
EM: It was at the IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival) in Amsterdam, and at Copenhagen Docs. It’s going to San Francisco, Tel Aviv, London, all over.
VIMOOZ: Any new projects?
EM: I just finished two projects, but I’m on maternity leave, so I’ll start something new in August.