Interview with Director Monika Treut on her recent release, Of Girls And Horses

Director Monika Treut is a pioneer of Queer Cinema, having worked for over 30 years in the genre. Her recent film Of Girls And Horses revolves around Alex, 16, a misfit who has been sent by her despairing adoptive mother to a farm in northern Germany. Then Kathy arrives at the farm to take a holiday, bringing her own, beautiful horse with her. Alex takes an instant dislike to this privileged newcomer. Slowly, though, the barriers between the two are broken down and Kathy finds herself smitten by the streetwise and energetic Alex. The pair starts larking about on the mudflats, until one weekend, when they’re alone at the farm, things spiral out of control. This is a coming-of-age story with girls and horses, under the lowering skies of northernmost Germany, by the ocean and close to the Danish border. We interview the director about her career and latest feature.

A: Being located within the “New Queer Cinema” genre of film making, have you found an increased interest from outside the community in recent years?
MT: From my perspective as a veteran filmmaker who started making queer films more than 30 years ago, when queer themed films were a rarity, I’d almost say that back then the interest from outside the community was stronger since queer films were a novelty. Now, since we have an abundance of queer films of all genres, it seems that queer films have become a big genre in themselves, let’s say like science fiction films. And as a genre it has found its fans mostly inside the queer community with the exception of big-budget queer-themed films like Milk or Brokeback Mountain.

A: Of Girls And Horses explores the coming of age story of two girls. What inspired you to portray this story in a classic and realistic manner?
MT: I wanted to show the development of troubled teen Alex from establishing her crisis in the beginning towards her slow redefining herself so the audience can see the small subtle changes via her communication with horses and her conflict-solving with the other characters.

A: You have been involved in many areas of film making: acting, directing and writing to name only a few. Which individual element do you find the most rewarding in the film making process?
MT: For me all the different stages of filmmaking together are attractive – I don’t have a favourite part. Instead, each stage of filmmaking has its own thrill and before it gets boring you can enter into the next phase of work.

A: You scale back the events in the movie to represent the slower pace of life; is this aspect of rural living something you wished was more present in urban life today?
MT: I can only speak for myself but yes, I sometimes miss the pre-digital age when my life was less crowded with information and distraction. The slowness of rural life which is influenced by the changes of season and weather has a soothing effect, it helps me to find a balance and makes me happy.

A: Looking to the future, what are your plans for your next film?
MT: Right now I’m finishing a feature documentary on a human rights project in the most violent favela of Rio de Janeiro in the wake of the Olympic Games in 2016.

Of Girls And Horses, directed by Monika Treut, now on home release in the UK;

1. Still from Monika Treut’s Of Girls And Horses.