Sven J. Matten
The idea for STEEL came to me at a time when several friends and acquaintances – all of them well-educated young people with great professional prospects – almost simultaneously started voicing a certain sense of dread, emphatically and consistently. A dread regarding what seemed to govern their lives: a stressful job, shallow relationships, no time for family and friends and a lack of courage to explore what they really wanted out of life. A certain sense of dislocation that made them feel alienated and turned life in the fast lane into a dangerous manoeuvre.
Writing STEEL, I wanted to raise the key questions these people seemed to ask themselves persistently – and, curiously, at a time when they appeared to largely have completed their personal development: what is the purpose, the meaning, the merit of our existence? I wanted to push it even further: what if a young person’s identity crisis can’t be overcome in some way? What if there’s no-one who has your back? What if your family is part of a past that you’ve blocked out and denied because you feel that instead of giving you stability, your roots hold you captive in one place?
And what if all of this leads into catastrophe? To a place where we simply can’t deal anymore, where we snap? What do we do, how do we find a way out? How can be go back to ourselves? Those are the issues I wanted to focus on.
STEEL is not just a drama about a mentally ill person, it’s a film about modern life, about a world whose values have become hollow and redundant and about a generation that has lost all sense of direction and purpose over this.
The story’s skeptical attitude towards civilization is perfect for being developed in an urban location, juxtaposed with images of Canada’s intact nature and wide open spaces, representing pure emotion.
The particular narrative form of the film emphasizes this: the dialogue takes up no more room than necessary within the film’s course, the focus is put not on language but rather on imagery, on the physical expressions conveyed through the protagonists’ bodies – and on the film’s symphonic score. The score will be composed with films such as Swimming Pool by Francois Ozon in mind, as well as Blue (part of the Three Colous trilogy, directed by Krzysztof Kieslowsky), ET, 8 Women and Under the Sand, both by Francois Ozon, and Girl with a Pearl Earring by Peter Webber, score by Alexandre Desplat.
STEEL has no traditional happy ending, but it ends on an optimistic note: things are different from what they were at the beginning. Not perfect – but better. I find that our generation is well on its way.”