US director Victoria Mahoney talks about making her directorial debut, Yelling To The Sky, which is in competition at Berlin.

Are you happy to have the film screening in Berlin?

Beyond happy. It’s incredibly dreamy. There are things we do for business and things we do out of sheer love and the Berlin Film Festival falls under love. It is a sentimental marker and a personal marker in my own life as a film-maker.

You produced, wrote and directed this film. How did you juggle all three?

It turns out that all the things I got in trouble for as a kid in school are assets to film-making. I have the ability to do eight things at once and compartmentalise and actually enjoy it. I actually have more difficulty with basic things like tying my shoes and getting out the house!

The film is semi autobiographical. Did the need to tell the story, outweigh the difficulty of having to reveal personal details about your life?

A great deal of the film is based on my own experiences, but I would say that the more brutal components were removed. It’s lke a PG version of my life.

I needed to tell this story and that need went past my ego. I had to kill those demons before I ever typed a word. Even before I went to the Sundance Institute, I had written so many drafts that I feel like by the time I handed over to another human being, I had kind of put a lot of that vulnerability about personal exposure to rest.

The lead chacater is played by Zoe Kravtiz. Did you know she was the one straight away?

When Zoe she walked in and auditioned and cut open her chest cavity and bore her soul, then it was easy. That’s because I knew I was sitting across from someone who was going to murder this role, she was out for blood in the exact same way I was.

Your film is about a young girl facing a tough upbringing in New York, with Precious actress Gaby Siboure as one of the leads. Are you bracing yourself for the comparisons?

Precious broke a lot of barriers and is something monumental in so many ways for so many different people. It was a beautiful important landmark in cinema. If Yelling was not semi autobiographical, I maybe would have had a little bit of nervousness. But I don’t really think about it as I wrote this script 12 years ago, it lives and breathes on its own.

What’s next?

I am in pre production on my second film, Chalk, about a person who goes on a hunt for murder suspects. That’s all I can say. But it’s a really exciting story, and about 180 degrees from Yelling. I needed to push myself to what I knew I was capable of.