One of the most intensely personal entries in this year’s festival season saw Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó and his writer partner Kata Wéber draw on their own private life for Pieces of a Woman, in which Vanessa Kirby plays Martha, a first-time mother whose daughter dies in childbirth. Ellen Burstyn co-stars as Elizabeth, Martha’s mother, who leads the charge to prosecute the midwife present at the birth.
The Netflix film sent shockwaves when it bowed at the Venice Film Festival in August, not least because of the harrowing 24-minute single take that captures the film’s central tragedy in real time.
Writer Kata Wéber admits during Netflix’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film awards-season event that the script was very, very difficult to write.
“I was really afraid,” she says. “I almost felt like I couldn’t do it. It felt like a really dark place—I wasn’t sure if it was enough of a story and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go there. But then I said to Kornél, ‘I have to go away and try to deal with this,’ so I went to Berlin to write, and then I felt there was an urge to write it. It almost felt like therapy for me. I was so afraid of going to that dark place, but then when I was writing, I realized there was so much more that I could talk about. It’s not just about the loss. It’s not just about the tragedy. It’s also about grace and love and togetherness, and how someone can triumph over grief and become a stronger person.”
Check out the panel video above.