WITH World Cup fever taking hold in England, Marcel Gisler’s upcoming film Mario arrives as a timely reminder of the work that still needs to be done to help make the beautiful game more of an inclusive game. The story of two male footballers who fall in love, Mario deals with the backlash and politics both players face as their relationship becomes public knowledge.
Close-up Culture are proud to welcome award-winning Mario star Jessy Moravec onto the site to discuss Mario, acceptance in football and abuses of power in the film industry.
Q: Let us begin with Mario – out in UK cinemas 13 July. There are currently no openly gay footballers in the top leagues of English football, do you feel big-screen representations of gay footballers could be a catalyst for real-life change and a shift in attitudes?
A: IRONICALLY I have just come to know today [interview conducted on 29 June] that U.S. soccer player Collin Martin has officially come out. I think this will be a huge step forward for homosexuality in football.
Mainly the fans have to get used to it, I think, because at the moment it is unfortunately still seen as a weakness. You hope that the more you open up about the topic, the better the outcome will be until one day it will not be an issue at all anymore.
Q: Can you talk about your character Jenny and the situation she is in during the film?
A: JENNY does not care about her best friend’s sexual orientation. She is an easy going and honest girl. To help Mario out, she is willing to pretend to be his girlfriend. Eventually though, she figures out that she has underestimated the situation and the lie becomes unbearable for her.
Q: Congratulations on winning ‘best performance in a supporting role’ at the 2018 Swiss film awards for your role in Mario. Can you tell us about working on this project and what it has meant to you personally?
A: MY first audition with Max [Hubacher, who plays Mario] was 5 years ago. Meanwhile we have worked on three movies together and it has been a great pleasure every time. Also with Marcel [Gisler, the director], I knew from the first moment that we would have an incredible time together.
The atmosphere was very familial. Also the shoot with the cast and crew was amazing. The work was built on respect and honesty and I think that is what this movie represents.
Q: I believe you made comments about abuses of power, particularly in the film industry, during your acceptance speech. Can you share your comments with us in more detail and any struggles you may have faced?
A: I THINK there are only a few people out there that are actually able to handle power and success responsibly.
Abuses of power you can found everywhere. Unfortunately I have had some experiences with that. But I am happy for every single one because, as corny as it sounds, I have learnt a lot from it. Especially to be true to myself.
Q: How do you see progress – in terms of removing these abuses of power and building more egalitarian structures – being achieved in a post-Weinstein world?
A: THE greatest importance is to lose the fear of speaking freely about issues and to be able to admit to your own weaknesses. In the end, the power of one person is built by many others. We should remember that and speak up when necessary.
It is the same issue on social media. The more we show people on these platforms – that their lives are perfect and that they always have jobs and money, without showing the other side of the coin – the more we feed this power imbalance. We all want success more than progress, and this is where I want to start the change that leads to more balance.
Q: I stumbled across a heart-warming YouTube video of yourself and Tizia Florence giving acting classes to young students. What can you tell us about your collaboration with Tizia and the joys teaching bring to you?
A: Tizia and I studied acting together in Zurich. Since then we have been inseparable.
We have worked together behind the camera a lot – writing, directing, producing, etc. We founded Gormazing Unicorns and use it as our collective platform. A couple of years ago, we also started to give acting workshops for kids and teenagers through the association Filmkids. It is so much fun and such a fulfilling job, where we are able to talk about topics such as power abuse and give them another view of the job of an actor/actress.
Acting will not hurt anyone, you learn many things about yourself and others, regardless if you want to become a professional actor or not.
Q: Besides yourself, are there any talent young European talents we should be on the lookout for?
A: WE have just finished a short film project with eleven teenagers. Very talented young people- all of them. So, to answer your question, there are many. But in the end there is also a bit of luck needed.
Q: How do you see your career unfolding? What are your ambitions?
A: HONESTLY? I do not know. I am excited what the future holds. Right now, I know that I do not know anything. So I will just try to take it as it comes.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?
A: YES. I cannot say much about it. But there is an upcoming project called Heidiland – and I am Heidi!
Q: LASTLY, why do you believe in Mario and why should UK audiences see the film?
A: BECUASE there are no openly homosexual players in the UK – yet (smiles).
Mario is out in UK cinemas 13 July