This year’s International Oscar entry for Switzerland, My Little Sister, follows a woman who has largely given up on her ambition to be a playwright and returns to Berlin to look after her twin brother, a famous actor with a terminal illness. It is directed by long-term collaborators and co-directors Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond.
The inspiration to write a story about twins came from the duo’s own partnership, they explain. “[The story] comes from our own duet,” Chuat said during Deadline’s Contenders International event. “We are soulmates, we have a creativity that belongs only to the two of us. If one is gone, the other will never be the same. The question is, what if the other was gone? That was the starting point.”
The other inspiration, she adds, was a desire to work with famed German star of stage and screen Nina Hoss, who plays the lead role opposite Lars Eidinger. “Even before thinking of the twin idea we were already thinking of Nina Hoss, we wanted to write a character for her,” says Reymond, who adds that the trio had a chance first meeting at a Berlin hotel.
For Hoss, after meeting the filmmakers she says they had “so much to talk about” and similar views. “I was immediately interested in what they were thinking of writing,” say says. “I didn’t know at all where this was going, and the script had many changes in the five years we had to wait for financing, but I felt they were very intuitive directors, very sensitive, very funny, they have a nice lightness about them but they are also sincere. Those are all things I really like.”
Chuat and Reymond have known each other since their school days, initially both training as actors before heading behind the camera to write and direct. The pair describe their on-set dynamic as aligned but spontaneous, with each taking on various writing and directing responsibilities on a day-to-day basis. They are also democratic when it comes to directing their actors.
“We are completely together on set and we direct our actors as a duo,” Reymond said.