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Touch Me Not

Adina Pintilie, Monica Lazurean Gorgan, Marius Iacob

Romania

synopsis

Three people deal with the same longing and yet inability to touch, to make contact. Laura works for years in the same mannequin factory. She peeps at other people’s intimate life, while hers doesn’t seem to function. She pays to be touched, hiring young boys to create an illusion of intimacy. Tudor is an actor who earns his living as a masseur. He wants a woman who rejects his attempts at making contact. He stalks her, finding a compensatory way to touch her through objects, places she’s touched. Paul is an actor too, caught in a dysfunctional relationship.

In the background, a “miracle” story develops, first as a TV-news piece that gradually enters the characters’ lives: in the outskirts, a simple uneducated man discovers he has a “gift”- when he touches people he cures them, removing any illness. The Suburban Saint phenomenon grows, between irony and worship. As when he touches he gives a lot, the Saint starts losing more and more weight, until he falls ill. Street fights begin in the long lines of people waiting to be cured in front of his building, all desperate to get to him before he dies.

Laura witnesses an interactive show performed by Paul and Tudor. Fascinated by them, she keeps coming back, more and more visible for them. She gradually becomes a silent witness of their lives, their solitary longing deeply resonating with her own. In this mirroring process, the walls Laura so skilfully built around her slowly collapse under the flow of her repressed feelings.

Finally, Laura finds herself in the long line of people in front of the Suburban Saint’s flat. When she finally enters, she finds an exhausted and sick man. As he is about to touch her, blood pours from his nose and he collapses. Laura helps him up, cleans his face. Unable to move or speak, he surrenders to her caring hands. In the end he falls asleep. Laura stays there watching over him.

intention

I take the risk, as I feel it emotionally important, to begin by quoting a scene from Bergman’s From The Life Of Marionettes. A gay fashion designer in his 50s relates a disturbing confession to an old female friend concerning his worst fears: time, inescapability of death and physical decay, incurable loneliness. At the height of his anxiety, he asks her to take his hand and put it on her cheek, when he asks: Can you feel the hand? The woman nods, she feels it; then in a sort of helpless despair, he asks: Can you feel it’s me? After a long hesitation, she shakes her head: No.
Though our civilization has evolved enormously and communication seems to have become closer at hand than ever before, paradoxically, contemporary society experiences spiritual impoverishment, lack of landmarks, impossibility to fill a void where gods used to be, offering balance, meaning. Solitude, lack of communication, of authentic contact between people has become symptomatic. Our daily rush on the surface of things is just a substitute. After all, we are naked in front of the ultimate questions, of time, loneliness, physical decay, death. In our “disenchanted world” the authentic contact with the other (though maybe impossible) becomes in its unexpected forms the way to heal this void, these fears. Touch me not is a personal investigation on intimacy, on human longing and yet inability to touch and be touched, to make contact.
As I work a lot with reality, the film grows in organic connection with in-depth research in areas as touch-related therapies (sex surrogate/body psychotherapy/massage), experimental theatre, sex industry etc. An extensive workshop aims to experiment approaches like psychodrama + playback theatre, building characters on the actors’ emotional backgrounds. On the boundary of reality and fiction, the film experiments in both content and form, exploring the limits of cinematic language from narrative structure to shot construction. Plot is consistently played down, what moves the story forward is the characters’ sensorial journey towards a physical, emotional, spiritual awakening. This “emotional” structure allows an essential freedom, moving from a distant, clinical observational style (one-shot scenes w. a sparse stylized, rigorously constructed frame, capturing like a cage the human behavior when contact is dysfunctional) to other visual approaches: personal diary, amateur recordings, archive footage.

budget & financing

Manekino Film has already achieved some important steps with Touch me not during the development: the project won the ARTE France Cinema Award at CINEMART 2011 and Jury Special Mention at Cinelink 2011, it was selected for Binger Filmlab (both Writers’ and Directors’ Lab), the Nipkow Programme and was recently granted MEDIA Development Funding, ranked as the best project in the Fiction category/Single Project. Presently we envisage a co-production with France and Germany. We are very happy to have Unlimited SA (Philippe Avril) and Rohfilm (Benny Drechsel) as confirmed partners, companies with strong experience in international coproduction and many films screened/awarded in A class festivals. We hope the previous successful collaboration between Unlimited and Arte France, and the fact that Touch me not won the ARTE France Cinema Award, will be helpful towards the further involvement of ARTE in our project, once the script reaches the necessary quality level. Rohfilm will seek production funding from MDM. In raising the necessary funding from Romania, we teamed up with 4Proof Film, which is directly involved in the development-financing stage and later in the production, offering us both their professional expertise and equipment. We applied for production support from the Romanian Film Centre and expect an answer in January 2012. The Romanian Film Centre has previously supported both medium length films of Adina Pintilie and also the development of Touch me not. Romanian National TV and HBO Romania have shown interest in the project, negotiations are in progress. Being the first feature film of the director and due to the instability of film financing in Romania, particularly by the Romanian Film Centre, TorinoFilmLab becomes an important chance for us to build up our financing plan. We will also consider Eurimages.

distribution & sales

In terms of distribution, Touch me not will be a particularly challenging experience, first of all due to the project’s daring nature in itself: more a concept driven than a plot driven film, dealing with taboos, with a particular concern in visual style and a highly subjective view on reality. Yet, through the universal and present-day themes it tackles (alienation, non-communication, dysfunctional intimacy), its emotional power and its interest in exploring the limits of cinematic language, Touch me not is likely to raise the interest not only of an international “art house” audience, but also that of a much wider public. Adina’s previous work found faithful supporters in prestigious film festivals like Locarno, IDFA, Thessaloniki, Rotterdam, Moscow etc., showing a strong personal voice, an outstanding visual style, a keen observation of human psychology and extreme boldness in experimenting. We believe the film will have the strength to launch at an A class international festival, especially Venice and Cannes, which are particularly open to innovative work by young directors, and to have an impressive festival career. We are also very aware of how important it is to team up as early as possible with a strong sales agent with good connections with festival programmers and the press, one able to position this film in the best way. Due to the uniqueness of Adina’s previous work, some sales agents and distributors, among them Films Boutique and Eye Film Institute Netherlands, already showed their interest and we aim for an MG as soon as we have a good rough cut. We strongly believe that with the right sales agent attached, given the film’s originality, its innovative, challenging and seductive character, Touch me not stands a good chance at gaining visibility within the international art house world, both in theatrical exploitation, TV broadcasting, and on the DVD and VOD markets as well.

A woman and two men in search of intimacy. Their solitudes meet - by chance or maybe they are meant to - in a forlorn attempt of contact.
574-adina-pintilie
Adina Pintilie

Scriptwriter, Film Director

adina.pintilie@manekinofilm.ro

419-monica-lazurean-gorgan
Monica Lazurean Gorgan

Production

339-marius-iacob
Marius Iacob

Production

production notes

original title
Nu Ma Atinge-ma

directed by
Adina Pintilie

produced byManekino Film
Banu Manta 18 bl 28 sc B ap 77 sector 1
11226, Bucharest
Romania

in co-production with
4Proof Film - Romania

Rohfilm - Germany

Unlimited - France

total production budget
€ 1.152.990

current financial need
€ 1.051.230