In Ursula Meier’s first movie Home, starring Isabelle Huppert as a mom, Kacey Mottet Klein played the part of the little boy in the family. Meir was impressed by his naturalness as an actor and wanted to work with him again. She came up with Sister, the Swiss entry for the Academy Awards, where Klein plays the 12-year-old Simon who goes up to the rich ski resort above his town to steal from the guests there to support himself and his sister (Léa Seydoux), who has trouble with men and keeping a job.
Meier grew up in a valley near the mountains in Switzerland and often went to resorts to ski. She drew on that writing the movie – she says she wanted to create a vertical world where Simon moves between the industrial flat world where he lives and the sparkling, wealth on top of the mountain at the resort.
“ I had this topography in my head, and I had this idea for a little thief and I wanted to work again with Kasey,” Meier said about writing the movie.
Going up to the resort is not just going up physically, but financially and socially as well, Meier says.
“There is everything up there,” she said. “There is the sun, there is money, and it’s like another world. For him it’s like a perfect world for him where he can play another role.”
The resort is like a theater for Simon where he wears a sort of costume- goggles, a hat and ski clothes, Meier says. At the resort he meets the wealthy mother of two children, played by Gillian Anderson. He tells her his name is Julian, like her son, and his parents own hotels. Meier says Anderson is a wonderful actress who she loved having in her film.
“I like that she comes from television, and I like that she was on “The X-Files” because she’s like a phantom in this film; it’s like she’s not real,” Meier said.
There is also a Scottish seasonal worker in the film who partners with Simon to sell the stolen skis. Meier says she wanted to show to resorts than how they are usually portrayed in movies.
There are not just rich and poor there – there are lots of seasonal workers as well,” she said. “He and Simon, they don’t speak the same language and they don’t come from the same country, but they are the same.”
Meier said she didn’t want to have a lot of background or explanation about why people were the way they were in her movie. She wanted to focus on the location and the main characters in the story, with no police or social workers.
“My film is more a fairy tale,” she said. “I don’t want too much social commentary in the film. If you give too much information, you would kill the fairy tale.”
Sister opens at AMC Kabuki in San Francisco, Shattuck in Berkeley and Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael on Nov. 9.