10th Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival
International Competition
Hippolyte Leibovici
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A family of drag queens belonging to four different generations gets ready for a show. Gathered in the dressing room, they discuss the difficulties that their choice of life entails in both family and social sphere. Their reference point is “maman”, the drag mother who, thanks to the sacrifices made by her generation, was able to make the life of her “daughters” easier. A character of great charisma that encourages the others to seek freedom and gain self-confidence: only in this way they will be happy. A dreamlike ending elevates “maman” to the status of mother, regardless of any gender distinction.

Hi Hippolyte thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

Living my best life! Hanging up with the cat all day at home, assuming my love for living as a hermit!

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Not at all, I like to make people dancing, living, sweating close in my films, and now I can barely imagine it. It’s a real stop whenever I think of a scene. Even when I’m watching a movie, and the characters get close to each other, kiss, or have body contact, I get like 'what are you doing are you crazy?'. So no, it’s not a period for creation. And does it still make sense to make films in that period? Shall we not do a revolution first before making films again?

Congratulations on having Mother's selected for this year's Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of films?

The cat and I are celebrating.

Mother's is in the International Competition, does this add any additional pressure on you?

No, I'm fine. With the cat.

Can you tell me a little bit about Mother's, how did this film come about?

I walked into this cabaret by chance and immediately fell in love. I came back the next day. And every other day. I started working there as the security guy which is absolute nonsense when you see my body. They have become friends. I knew there was something. Because when you see an actor on stage who puts on make- up and dresses himself, who knows his lines, who, in addition, can dance, sing ... I was fascinated by the fact that they knew how to do everything. Besides, it's a small family. There are 30 of us. I think that's also the cabaret: people who meet and decide to live together.

"I think in the end everyone is happy with the result. There were beautiful things that came out of the boxes."

After a year, I offered to film them, making about 20 portraits, although I don't think they ever come out. To all the questions I had, I had incredible answers. In the end, making a movie became obvious to four of them. They agreed on the condition that I become a drag queen myself ... So I did become a drag queen.

From there, we shot without really knowing what it was going to be like, locked up for five hours in boxes with alcohol and drag queen! At first, nothing comes out: it was not like the previous portraits. I see my film pass in front of me... So I asked my technical team to come out, have a drink, time to talk with my drag queen. They told me that it was clear to me that it was not working and suggested that I ask them all the questions beforehand, letting them do it: “You'll see, we'll come back to it ourselves, naturally." From there, we did five hours of non-stop shooting. So well done to the team that has held out this long. I think in the end everyone is happy with the result. There were beautiful things that came out of the boxes.

Before starting Mother’s did you know / experience much of the drag scene?

Not at all!

What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing this film to life?

Really I can’t tell if there was any challenge. We worked hard on it, we had alcohol helping, and the drag queens were my friends so everything was made very easily. Before we shot, my school didn’t believe in the movie, neither did they for the choice of multi-cam. But at the end we are here.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

You know the very funny thing about the Q&A after screenings is that people get to me a lot congratulating me for "the directing choice you made for close up." The truth is, I just forgot to shoot some wide shot.

"Do a first film. It will be shit, but you will never be so proud."

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I only know how to do filmmaking and trust me I’ve tried other things. It’s more of a survival instinct than a passion really.

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

Get a cat. 

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Yes we need that. But maybe first a global revolution would be great.

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Do a first film. It will be shit, but you will never be so proud. And you will continue to make more and more films just to find this feeling again. But you will never feel that again, and that’s why you will dedicate a lifetime to make films.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Mother’s?

I hope they’ll laugh, I hope they’ll cry, I hope they will call their mothers after the screening, and I hope I get an award!

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