Following the success of dramas like Wallander, The Killing and
The Bridge in recent times, Scandinavia's latest export is Kiss Me,
the first lesbian film to come out of Sweden since the 1998
coming-of-age story Show Me Love. Alexandra-Therese Keining's Kiss
Me was a hit at the BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
earlier this year, and it's easy to see why. The film is a
beautifully shot piece telling the tale of intense desire between
Mia (Ruth Vega Fernandez) and Frida (Liv Mjönes).
Ruth Vega Fernandez was attracted to the role of Mia because "in
that struggle to be free from what people think and to be closer to
one's own truth, she is close to many classic heroines". She
describes her character as a "sleeper that has a wake-up
The chemistry between the two women is electric: the tension in
the slow-moving early scenes when they first meet increases with
the exchange of looks between them. Speaking about developing the
on-screen relationship, Ruth says: "It's the work to find the
things in the other that you connect with and exploit them […] and
in this case it was pretty easy."
She tells me that filming the sex scenes wasn't particularly
exciting: "We treated them as a dance choreography, very precisely
planned, which enabled us to feel sufficiently comfortable to give
what was needed."
Kiss Me also depicts a difficult father-daughter dynamic between
Lasse - played by Wallander star Krister Henriksson - and Mia:
"She's lived her whole life trying to impress him, to gain his
attention and love. Once she starts making her own decisions this
means cutting the umbilical chord between her and her father. She's
working out the Electra complex I guess…"
Writer and director Alexandra-Therese Keining - whose debut Hot
Dog was released ten years ago - explains that this aspect of the
story takes it "beyond the average lesbian film". And it was a bit
of a coup getting Henriksson on board: "I think every director has
a list of their dream choices of actors to play certain characters.
Krister is such a skilled actor with great chemistry and presence".
The fact that Alexandra worked as a casting director on Wallander
may have just sealed the deal.
Despite the very Swedish backdrop, it was in fact springtime in
New York that inspired her to write the screenplay. Making the film
wasn't easy, taking about five years from start to finish. She
says: "I think it made a great difference that I both wrote and
directed it. I always needed to be very certain about what the
drive and creative force was for the film when the industry
But it seems that the reaction to date has made it all worth it:
"So far, the success of Kiss Me has been mind-blowing. I never did
expect that it would come across to an international audience like
Kiss Me is available on DVD now at divadirect.co.uk