Interview | AMIT SHIMONI

Victoria Adelaide: How did you come up with Hipstory?
Amit Shimoni: 
The project is called Hipstory, which is a combination of the words “hipster” and “history.” The main idea is to talk about the paradox of hipsters. Hipsters embody that dream we all have to be unique, special, the most creative, and to stand out of the crowd. The paradox is that when someone does something unique, everybody else looks up to them ends up doing the same thing. I pick iconic leading figures of our time and from the past—from the political world or pop culture. The common point is that they all live or lived for their ideology, and I make them look like a fashion victim or just like us. My purpose is to use those characters as a mirror of ourselves. It is somehow a satirical observation of me and my generation.


VA: I heard that your characters have become so popular that teachers use them in history class with their students?
That’s right. Teachers all over the world teach history using my characters, as students can relate more easily to a Martin Luther King who may look like the people they admire than if they are shown an old picture of him in black and white. Somehow, it communicates and helps transmit the knowledge in a fun new way, and suddenly students are like, “Oh cool, where is this guy?”…



Victoria Adelaide: When did you first hear of Karen Blixen?
Anna Cataldi: The first time I heard about Karen Blixen was through an exhibition of photographer Peter Beard that I attended in New York in 1977. It was about Africa and Karen Blixen. I had no idea who she was, and all these names, Denys Finch Hatton and Kamante, did not mean anything to me. Somehow, these photographs fascinated me, and step by step, I discovered more about Karen Blixen. Ironically, all the people I spoke to, including my sister, knew who Karen Blixen was.


VA: What kind of fascination ignited your desire to make a movie about Karen Blixen’s life?
AC: In 1978, I took a journey to East Africa with my five-year-old daughter Jacaranda. First, we went to Sudan, and it was absolutely captivating, so pristine. Then we went to Kenya, but tourism was already there. I started to read Karen Blixen’s book, Out Of Africa, and through her story, I discovered what Kenya was like back then. It was so original and authentic. However, my interest broadened way beyond Karen Blixen’s existence; it was the atmosphere that she described that was incredible. So, I started to think: How could I recreate this atmosphere? Why not do a movie about life in East Africa at the time. I began to read Silence Will Speak, a study of the life of Denys Finch Hatton and his relationship with Karen Blixen, which was written by Kenya-based British author Errol Trzebinski. The idea of doing a movie on Karen Blixen’s book was already around in Hollywood. In her book, a love story is not mentioned, and to do the movie, we needed a love story. Out Of Africa is an excellent literary book, but the material we needed for the film was in Silence Will Speak. So, I contacted Errol Trzebinski

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Photo: Lan Tran