Swedish filmmaker Mika Gustafson shifts from the docu world beginnings to her fiction feature debut in Paradise is Burning – a selection in the 2023 Venice Film Festival’s Orizzonti section. Winner of the Best Director award, Gustafson infuses her world of children (here three sisters) fending for themselves in their free-wielding carefree spirits with a template that dismantles cliched representations of what it might look like to defend a fort that is without a caring adult. As the character Hannah, portrayed by Ida Engvoll, makes her entrance, we embark on a journey of exploration into previously uncharted depths. Gustafson employs a visual poetry that mirrors a world characterized by compassion interwoven with turmoil. In my interview, I got to discuss the psychology of her characters, the relationships and rituals that they hold so dear, and learn about how the project was born.