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An Aristocratic Look and a Powerhouse Personality

Mimi Wedell in “Hats Off”

Originally published in The New York Times
By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS
Published: March 28, 2008.

Widowed at 65 by a husband who left only unpaid bills and fond memories, the indomitable Ms. Weddell saw an opportunity to follow her passion. “I love illusion,” she says, describing an acting career that has paid her bills for almost three decades. From “Law & Order” to “Sex and the City,” from vampire movies to cheese commercials, this remarkable woman has compiled a résumé that defies the industry’s rampant ageism. And while her aristocratic looks and powerhouse personality — and an elegant way with a cigarette holder — have no doubt contributed to her success, so too has a willingness to work 14-hour days and fight for roles.

“Mimi’s driven,” says her son, Tom, who shares his mother’s East Side Manhattan apartment along with his sister, Sarah Dillon, and other family members. And as the filmmakers, Jyll Johnstone and Michael Arlen Davis, strive to keep up with their subject’s punishing schedule of dance lessons, gym workouts, auditions and even a sightseeing trip to Florence, their movie seldom flags. For Ms. Weddell, standing still may be life’s only remaining terror.

HATS OFF

Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

Directed by Jyll Johnstone; edited by Kate Stilley Steiner and Bill Weber; music by Frankie Spellman and Stevie Buzzell; produced by Ms. Johnstone and Michael Arlen Davis; released by Canobie Films and Abramorama. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes. This film is not rated.

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Sir Ken Robinson Praises “Hats Off”

Sir Ken Robinson—the globally recognized expert and bestselling author on creativity and education—has included an extensive reference to our film Hats Off in his book, Finding Your Element.

He cites the film’s subject, Mimi Weddell, as the perfect example of someone who follows her own dreams even when they fly in the face of societal norms, and as a result happily finds her own “Element.” He references Hats Off as “the acclaimed documentary,” and quotes director Jyll Johnstone’s reflection of Mimi, “It’s amazing how she touched so many lives.” We are very excited to see such a great reference to the film, especially coming from a thought leader like Sir Ken Robinson; and we encourage everyone to check out Finding Your Element, and, if you haven’t seen Hats Off yet, to check that out as well.

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Capping a Career – New York Post Review of “Hats Off”

“Jyll Johnstone’s irresistible “Hats Off” documents Mimi Weddell, a Manhattanite who, at 93, has pretty much cornered the market playing elegant, very old ladies in movies, TV, commercials and print ads.” – Lou Lumenick, March 28, 2008

Read the full review in the New York Post

“Hats Off” also featured in the New York Post from March 30, 2008:

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What the Press is saying about “Hats Off”

“Mimi Weddell is one of a kind and perhaps even a freak of nature, albeit an irresistibly charming one. It’s obviously not all because of her drive and determination, but we come away from Johnstone’s film believing attitude may play a role in the theater of at least one woman’s life.” ~ San Francisco Chronicle, David Wiegand

“Mimi is indefatigable and undefeatable. She will inspire and enchant you, I guarantee.” ~ Jennifer Merlin, About.com Guide

“Mimi has some very definite ideas about how one should live one’s life, most of which could have emerged from the mouth of Auntie Mame and landed on a needlepoint throw pillow (“Rise above it!” is a favorite maxim).” ~  TV Guide

“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.” ~ IMDb

“Lively and touching.”  ~ New York Magazine