Q: What drew you to this story?
A: I think in all of my films I have to some degree tried to analyze moral and ethical dilemmas, especially with stories where characters are put into situations where doing the “right thing” ends up being the worst thing to do, and vice versa. If we mean to do well, does that exclude us form culpability when our actions backfire? Should that experience affect how we act in a similar situation in the future? These kinds of questions are terribly interesting to me, and being able to address them within the framework of a story that also happens to be interesting and suspenseful in its own right is impossible to pass up, so investing three years of my life to make Saturnalia was not a difficult decision to make.
Q: How do each of the characters use Edey to further their own agendas, and, in turn, how does her presence drive them further to their climactic conflict?
A: They really don’t use her because they don’t know she exists until the end of the film. Edey’s intervention in the family dynamic is very complex. From her perspective, she is partly filling a void that was filled by having a home, a family, and a husband, and she is willing to do everything she can do protect what she sees as her own “pseudo family”. Of course, without realizing it she is making things worse for Richard, the man whose house she sneaks into, because her covert actions are slowly confirming a reality he doesn’t want to accept, and that his estranged son has forced him to consider: he may not be ready to live by himself after the passing of his wife. From Neil’s (Richard’s son) perspective, Edey’s actions are forcing him to up the ante, which makes him realize what lies at the core of his actions to get his father evicted from the house; does he really care about his well-being or is he looking after himself? Ultimately, because of Edey’s involvement the characters are forced down paths that reveal their true selves, leading to a catharsis that allows them to become a family again, ironically by removing Edey from the picture.
Q: What moves Edey from someone seeking shelter to a need to protect Richard?
A: I am not too sure about her seeking shelter. There was something that triggered a response on her when she saw that door left open after being bumped into the ground by Neil (an action that is repeated at a pivotal point in the film afterwards). Images and textures seem to be really important to her, as her behavior reveals when she explores the house, so something about seeing that image of the door half open called to her. I mentioned earlier that she may be trying to fill a void that was created when she lost her family and house, but this may not be true. Maybe she never had those things, and she wants to experience having them for the first time, which would explain her somewhat childish understanding of what makes a family tick; for instance, she has no way of knowing that some of the things she is doing are somehow being mistaken as Jeannie’s (Neil’s girlfriend) doing, so circumstances are aligned in such a way that she gets to cook, buy groceries, and do other things without being discovered, but that’s just luck, yet she does not have a plan in place to stay in the house long term. We should remember that she also appears to have a psychological injury that is externalized by her mumbling and expressionless demeanor, so it may be futile to try and rationalize everything she does.
Q: How did the true story of the woman living undetected the man’s house become the seed for your film?
A: I came across a news report from Japan about a homeless woman who had managed to sneak in and lived in a man’s house for an entire year without his knowledge. After he noticed some food missing, he installed cameras and saw her coming out of a closet. I thought it was a bit of a stretch to believe that a woman who had just managed to live in secret for a year would suddenly turned careless, so I imagined an alternate story based on the original setup (which I thought was incredible) that explained how things led up to her leaving the house, which became the screenplay for Saturnalia.
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