"If you don't dance, for heaven's sake, you cannot aspire.
You do not lift up from this earth."
Hats Off, a feature-length documentary, profiles the beauty and eccentricities of an extraordinary woman, 93-year-old actress Mimi Weddell.
With the style and grace of Katharine Hepburn, the smoky wit and wisdom of Dorothy Parker, and her own personal philosophy, "rise above it," Mimi is truly an iconic American original, rising above the mundane and difficult confines of her own daily life to reach for the stars and fulfill her dreams.
Hats Off captures the essence of this most unusual woman, named at age 90 by New York Magazine as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in New York," whose full-time acting career began at age 65 upon the passing of her husband, and whose daily routine mocks the traditional image of old age. From grueling 14-hour days at cattle call auditions to her weekly gymnastics and dance workouts, Mimi Weddell exudes a 'can-do, will-do' attitude in the face of life's trials and tribulations, and moves through her challenges with grace, encouraging us all to be more than we are.
Shot over the course of 10 years, by critically-acclaimed, award-winning director Jyll Johnstone, (Martha & Ethel, Throwing Curves) Hats Off covers a time span when most seniors are planning their funerals and estate bequests. Instead, Hats Off follows the breathtaking pace of Weddell, a bohemian free spirit now forced to share her east side Manhattan apartment with her two more traditionally-minded grown children and a grandchild. Like most families, their relationship is complex, and the mother-daughter/mother-son dynamic adds a fascinating layer of depth to an already compelling and entertaining film.
When her beloved husband Dick dies, "leaving nothing behind but bills, poor man," Mimi does what she has to do to stay afloat, even attending an audition on the way to his memorial and landing the lead role in the cult film Dracula's Last Rites, which marks the beginning of her career.
Since that time, 25 years ago, Mimi has been seen in print ads for companies Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Juicy Couture, and Nike, to name a few; in photo spreads for Vanity Fair and Vogue; on TV series including Sex and the City and Law and Order; and in feature films such as: Across the Universe, Hitch, and The Purple Rose of Cairo.
But Weddell isn't a star. She never wanted to be. She just wants to work.
"There's a lot more to be learned, and I'm going to learn
all the way up to the stairway to the stars."
An examination of family relationships, love, and ultimately the dreams which drive us, Hats Off is a compelling and entertaining documentary that inspires, and urges us to celebrate the underdog, and the Mimi in us all.
Hats Off is a Canobie Films Production starring Mimi Weddell. Directed by Jyll Johnstone and produced by Jyll Johnstone & Michael Arlen Davis.
Co-starring Sarah Dillon, Kit Dillon, Tom Weddell, and Anna Weddell, Hats Off running time is 84 minutes.