Honorable Mention – “Mommy’s Girl” (Italy)

Title: Mommy’s Girl
Runtime: 6 min
Country: Italy
Director: Adele Biraghi
Placement: Honorable Mention
Competition: December, 2018

Synopsis: A family drama about a young girl’s struggle to pursue her passion for boxing despite her mom’s overprotectiveness. A story about femininity, identity and acceptance.


OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

AB: The main themes of my film are identity, femininity, and the challenges in parenting. The idea of the film stems from an article that stresses how mothers themselves perpetrate patriarchal values to their offspring in an innate defense mechanism and can be harmful in the development in daughter’s individual development. I think this concept is extremely interesting and its impact is widely underrated. It also takes inspiration from my personal experience, being a martial arts enthusiast since very early age!

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

AB: This short was written specifically for a class exercise named 508 in the University of Southern California, where I am currently obtaining my Master of Fine Arts in Film Production. My crew and I had a very short time to conceive and complete the film – just about 5 to 6 weeks – and a limited budget too as well as length: a maximum of 6 minutes.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

AB: I think for anyone who produces and directs short films it is always to create empathy for the main character in such a short amount of time as well as conceiving a complete arc that doesn’t feel rushed or implausible in the timespan of 5-10 minutes. 

I said to myself  “If I can get people to feel for Maddy and laugh at the end when she’s playing with her dad, then I succeeded”.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

AB: Working with a child actress is surely challenging but it was a fantastic experience that made me grow enormously as a director. 

It was my first time directing kid that young; Lorelai is only six years old and I spent a month researching the best ways to achieve the best possible performance without ever pushing her over her emotional limits. I read many books and articles and I interviewed many members of the University of Southern California directing faculty to prepare myself.

Most first time directors don’t realize that child actors function differently than adults, they have a shorter span of attention, can remember less directions and lines, their energy runs out more quickly and their daily mood impacts the performance greatly. These are all aspects a director needs to be prepared for as well as finding ways of communicating the directions that resonate with the specific child you are working with.

I am very proud of the genuine performance I was able to craft, not only for the film itself but for the bond of friendship and respect that was created between me and the cast, for these reasons this film means so much to me, and I also want to take this opportunity to thanks Lorelai and her mom Nikki for the great energy, motivation, love (and support) that they brought to the project beginning to end.

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

AB: It is imperative for me to make movies that are entertaining but also conceptually challenging to the audience, in an attempt to leave the audience thinking about their own upbringing and how they could make a difference in their World. 

So I’d say make a movie about something you care about deeply, in the most entertaining way possible – not just for the audience but for yourself as well, having fun making the film makes all the difference.