‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’: Jane Campion on Her ‘Ovarian’ Series

Oh, yes. That was very much in my mind. Tui, in “Top of the Lake,” she’s the daughter of Matt Mitcham, and she’s the result of Matt getting what he hoped would be a woman who would do what he wanted, an Asian bride, Tui’s mother. And these Asian girls at the brothel come from very poor backgrounds, where there is not a lot of choice there. It’s a common thing for some men who find women to be too difficult, to get what they hope will be a submissive woman. It doesn’t really work out that way, because they aren’t that submissive. But it is one of the things that always irritated me, this fetishized ideal of women. They think these women will listen to them and not speak much. They think Asian women are more petite, more beautiful, more feminine than us big white women. [Laughs] Which is, of course, slightly annoying, but also slightly ridiculous.

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Throughout the series, you had a villain-like character espousing feminist rhetoric. And then it turns out that the supposed nice guy of the prostitute-rating crew, the one who prefers the “girlfriend experience” —

Ends up shooting everyone. [Laughs.] What inspired me was this really great documentary by Kitty Green about Pussy Riot and the Femen activist movement in Russia, called “Ukraine Is Not a Brothel.” And what she exposed was that behind the girls’ actions was a man — Victor Svyatski — and when she interviewed him to find out how it was all operating, he said the reason he wanted to do it was to meet women. [Laughs.] He was actually the feminist behind the whole thing!

Puss says Cinnamon wasn’t murdered, that she hanged herself. Should we accept that?

We don’t know if she hanged herself. Puss is an unreliable witness. It may or may not be true. But our Romeo being in love with Cinnamon, that wasn’t of much use to her. He was delusional. To him, it was his imagination taking him to a different level, when they had conversations about holidays or whatnot. To her, it was probably nothing. I just based the cafe nerds on art school guys who do go to brothels, who were kind enough to be honest about…

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