Director Iram Haq’s debut film played to a full house during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. I Am Yours (Jeg er Din) is a raw, emotionally charged, and honest look at the life of a twenty-seven year old single mother, yearning for love and acceptance, but unable to find it. Mina, played by Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones) is the daughter of traditional expatriate Pakistani parents, living in Norway. Her relationship with her family is a rocky one, and their rejection and disapproval profoundly affects nearly all aspects of her life, from her relationship with her son to her ability to find employment and a meaningful relationship. This raises the question, “Can one love if they have never been loved?”
Mina is flawed. She’s an inattentive mother, who puts her own pleasure ahead of her son. Her self-destructive behaviour sends her into the arms of unavailable and emotionally damaging men, and alienates her from her family and community. She does selfish things and rarely takes the blame for her actions. In the wrong hands, Mina could easily be unsympathetic and unlikeable but Amrita’s beautiful and complex performance connects with the audience and carries the film. We can relate to Mina (even if we don’t want to admit to it). Whether it’s the lost loneliness in her eyes as she wanders the streets, the quiet sadness when berated by her mother, or the cathartic release as she dances away her rejection, Amrita brings a humanity to the character, a realness. We may not agree with her choices but we understand them. Supporting performances by Ola Rapace and Rabia Noreen round out a suburb cast.
I Am Yours captures the frustration and bewilderment of many twenty-somethings through one very specific and well crafted story. The ambiguous ending asks the audience to contemplate the cyclical nature of behaviour and ability to break and change patterns in our own lives.
Fresh Print was lucky enough to sit down with actress Amrita Acharia to talk about the film, the TIFF festival, and her life as an up and coming actress.
Fresh Print: Hi Amrita. Let’s start at the beginning. Where is your home base?
Amrita Acharia: I’m based in Tromso and London but have spent some time in LA recently too!
FP: How did you get started in acting?
AA: I took drama at high school and that’s where I discovered I might consider it as a career. I trained at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London. It was an impulsive moment of deciding to go for drama school instead of psychology. I guess they’re pretty close in a way!
FP: How does work differ in different countries?
AA: I love travelling so it’s great and seeing different places as part of your work is a luxury. But, I do miss my family.
FP: Where was I Am Yours shot?
AA: Oslo and Stockholm
FP: What was the most difficult/most rewarding part of shooting this film?
AA: Mina in I Am Yours (Jeg er Din) is a very unstable, self destructive character, so it was intense going into a chaotic psyche day after day. I do find the most challenging scenes the most rewarding though. Especially with a character whose actions often infuriated me—her lack of self respect, her erratic behaviour and her struggle to break out of alienation.
FP: What was it like working with director Iram Haq?
AA: Iram and I worked very closely together on the character and at times came away from the script and improvised. We worked on gut instinct as we got to grips with Mina. We had a lot of discussions about Mina and Iram was really open with me about her experiences that inspired this story. I was very privileged to have worked alongside established talent from Norway and Sweden. We had a lot of fun on set despite the darker subject matter.
FP: This is your first time at TIFF, correct? What is it like being in the convention circuit?
AA: I loved TIFF. It was all very last minute. It’s my first feature lead and my first time at a major international festival, so it’s been overwhelming- not much sleep and a lot of films. I’ve seen some absolute gems, and met some very interesting people! I met Mads Mikkelsen at the InStyle party, who is one of my favourite Scandinavian actors, and bumped into Emilia Clarke who I’ve not seen since Game of Thrones, so that was lovely!
I got to see The Lunchbox, which was top of my list, and have been seeing as many different genres as possible. I love that you can just be impulsive and check out films and events, and all in the bustling Toronto vibe- I’ve really loved it.
FP: Have you been able to check out the city?
AA: A little. One of my best friends’ boyfriend lives here and he’s been so lovely and shown me around. I love wandering around cities & getting lost in them!
FP: Fresh Print is focused on the voice of our generation (ages 19-30). What advice can you give to young people trying to get into the acting or in general?
AA: Take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. And as a very dear friend of mine told me yesterday: Collect the moments.