Swedish director Gabriela Pichler makes her debut with Eat Sleep Die, which was awarded in Venice.

After being lauded in Venice (where it won an audience prize) and Toronto, the film screened this week at the Zurich Film Festival.

You yourself once worked in a factory when you were younger, did that experience help with how you approached this story?

Yes of course, at that time I was very far away from film making, and just dreaming about it. So from an early point I wanted to make a film out of my perspective, the girl standing by the assembly line packing stuff that other people will eat (in my case cookies in paper boxes).

So much of this film is dependent on your lead actress, how did you find her and how did you know she was right for the role?

I new from the first line I wrote that this person we needed to find for the main role would have to be something really special. To be able to identify with the character, her struggles, feeling what kind of story I would like to tell, how the character talks and walks, and like me going in and out of different cultural identities. We looked for her for about 10-12 months, my casting director Lotta Forsblad came in very early in the process before I even had a script. I new that without the perfect casted main character the film would be nothing. One day Lotta got a name and a number that went to a girl that was said had been a bit of a tomboy when she was a teenager. So Lotta called her up, asking her if she would be interested to audition. She came with an elegant scarf around her shoulders, and feminine clothes and I was thinking “oh god…” but then she knocked us completely… and she got the role without even having applied for it in the first place.

Many critics have compared your style to the Dardennes, would you say they are an inspiration to you?

There are many different directors that have inspired me. Yes, among them are the Dardenne brothers. But also Claire Denis, Wong Kar-Wai, and Milos Forman are big inspirations.