HFF 2015 Interview: The Mother Director/Writer/Producer Paolo Monico


When a hardened widow receives an unexpected visit, she is given the chance to shed light on her husband’s death. The Mother is a 2015 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection, Narrative Short.

We spoke with Director/Writer/Producer Paolo Monico about his film:

HF: What is your film about, and how did the project come to be?

PM: The Mother is a short film starring Boris McGiver and Mary Testa. It’s the story of a hardened widow who is given the chance to shed light on her husband’s death when she receives an unexpected visit. The film is inspired by what happened to my father who died of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Strange enough, he never worked with asbestos. He was an accountant in a big corporation and even though we know there was asbestos in the building, we’ve never been able to prove any connection.

HF: What was your role in the production?

PM: I wrote, directed, self-financed and co-produced the film.

HF: Why did you submit to the Heartland Film Festival? Have you been to the Festival before?

PM: I’ve never been to HFF before. I submitted The Mother to the Heartland Film Festival because I want my film to screen at prestigious festivals like HFF in order to raise awareness about asbestos. On top of that, legendary actor Steve McQueen, born in Indiana, is probably the most famous victim of mesothelioma!

HF: This year’s tagline is “Movies That Stay with You” –what last effect will your film have on moviegoers? 

PM: The Mother is ultimately about our perception of truth. I really think that truth is just the space between two people’s perceptions and probably neither one is accurate. I hope moviegoers will see that when watching The Mother.

HF: What has inspired you to become a filmmaker?

PM: I wanted to tell stories through images. I’ve always done that with my drawings (I have a background in animation) –but narrative filmmaking and working with actors is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

HF: What is something that you know about filmmaking now, but you weren’t told when you started your career?

PM: Filmmaking is incredibly hard (but working “for real” is definitely worse…)

HF: What are some of your favorite movies? What’s your favorite worst movie (you know it’s bad, but still love it)?

PM: My favorite movie – Vera Drake by Mike Leigh. My favorite worst movie – Taken (so far away from my vision and taste, but man, I can’t help but like it…)

HF: How many film festivals has your film been a part of? 

PM: So far The Mother has been an official selection at Rhode Island International Film Festival, LA shorts, Heartland Film Festival, River’s Edge International Film Festival, Columbus International Film + Video Festival and San Jose Short Film Festival.

HF: Heartland Film Festival moviegoers love filmmaker Q&As. Let’s say a Festival attendee wants to earn some brownie points—what is a question that you’d love to answer, but haven’t yet been asked?

PM: Are you more interested in character driven stories or plot driven stories, and…is there any difference?

See The Mother in Shorts Program 6: An Ashortment of Sorts

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