Interview by: Hugo Toro.
Hadi Moussally is a filmmaker and photographer born in 1987 in Lebanon, a post-war time where art didn’t have enough space on the popular scene but he always had an artistic sensibility. He chose to study in Paris to learn filmmaking and especially to improve his artistic culture.
He first had a master degree in feature films at the Université Paris-Est Marne La Vallée. Then he decided to explore another side of cinema, reality film, where he had another master degree in anthropological documentary in the Université Paris 10 Nanterre, founded by Jean Rouch. With those two degrees, he has been able to develop and give a meaning to his own aesthetic vision of an image. From one hand, the feature films studies helped him build his imaginary by creating his own world, to direct films and managing a team, and especially a sense of aesthetic. On the other hand, the anthropological documentary studies helped him developing his ability to observe the subject and catch the right moment.
Since 2012, he decided to also work in the fashion industry by making fashion and experimental films. His aim is to show fashion with a meaning and combine it with his own artistic vision. Today he directed and scripted more than 30 movies (Documentaries, Short films, Experimentals and music videos).
He founded h7o7Films, production company with Olivier Pagny in Paris and The12Project, the First Alternative Fashion Network.
It is a pleasure for me and for the Distrito-Psicoanalitico team to interview one of the young promises of European cinema and photography. Hadi Moussally, enormous thanks for collaborating with this interview.
H.T: 4 awards, 12 nominations, 22 festivals and 20 countries are the success of "The12Project". How did the idea come about?
Having always held an avid interest for fashion and with my production company h7o7Films and my associate Olivier pagny, we had an idea involving our friends whose occupations span from hairstyling, make-up and fashion styling to graphic design, sound engineering to even poetry! We started with a little team of friends and gradually got bigger and bigger with talented friends coming from fields of all kinds.
We all came together to create a project where we could all do what we loved and that was how the The12Project was born. The idea was to show fashion in a different light, we wanted to use collections to voice our collective thoughts on particular themes. The aim of The12Project is to combine all kind of arts and use all of them as a message.
The12Project is 12 months, 12 fashion films, 12 editorials, 12 fashion designers, 12 models and 12 themes. Each month of the year, we produced an arthouse film that lasts for around one minute and a series of photos and is unique to all the other films and photos in the project but with strong, important messages that are coherent throughout. At the end of a 12 months-cycle, the 12 videos will merge to give birth to a new 12-minute movie.
H.T: To my liking it is such a unique project, I believe that the creation of the final short film over 12 previous videos is a marvel, capitalizing on specific problems, death, life, conflict, human. Does everything arise from your own reflections?
I come from an anthropological documentary studies, that taught me to observe a lot. I am usually very inspired by everything around me, and most of the time, by something unexpected. With my 2 master degrees in cinema and documentary and my work in fashion, most of my work can’t fit in one box, and it is usually Hybrid. I don’t like to categorize it in a specific case. The12Project was my first big project, and it was hard at the beginning to showcase it, because for the art field it’s too fashion and for the fashion field it’s too artistic. But very glad that today I can combine both field.
H.T: As you mention it on the official website, it is not only about fashion, this project draws themes linked to art, to passion and so it is felt, what is art for you?
It’s very difficult to define are, but for me, Art is when you feel something and start developing emotions. It’s not only about loving, but also hating. At least having an emotion and be moved. When you’re indifferent, this is for me Not Art.
H.T: I loved September, not only because it was my birth month, but because it seemed profoundly elegant. Has everything emerged from you, that is, the concept, the ideas, the theme per month?
The theme of the month was “Man”, 6 months after the the first theme “Woman”. And for me “Man” is very hard to define, and I wanted to show it my way. “Man”, is all about having emotions and accepting your feminine side. And I immediately thought of a dancer/model Thomas Lagrève. He got this “masculine” side with muscles and the facial characteristics, but his inside is very pure, sweet and gentle. Not forgetting when he dances, he has this magical way of combining strong and smooth steps. And I said I HAVE to work with him. And then, I wanted to mix dance and poetry, that instead of dancing on music, we can dance on words and try to bring forward the body language. So I discussed with RJ Arkhipov, who’s also the communication director of The12Project and he created the amazing original poem “XY”, all based on rimes starting with X and Y.
H.T: Socially, are you looking to impact in some way with your work?
What I love the most, is to create, with my films and photos, and see people’s reaction and especially discuss it. Certain persons love my work and other don’t, and that’s very good, if we all love the same thing, life will be so boring! And also, I realized my work and my personality are the opposite: My work is very melancholic, emotional and slightly dark, but in real life, I’m very joyful, optimistic and I love to laugh and especially make people laugh. We live in a very gray world filled with hatred, discrimination, and many more, I try to cheer people up and take all the negative energies away. So when I get even 1 message saying I made them smile, this makes my day!
H.T: From your perspective, what qualities does a good photograph have?
The photograph should have a good sense of frame, lightning and a specific relationship with the model. It’s not about only taking beautiful photos but also creating a project together.
H.T: What are your new projects, what should we expect from Hadi Mousally for 2018?
After I spent last year doing a lot of commercial jobs, I decided that 2018 is all about artistic collaborations and projects. A lot of projects are going out : POSITIVE, the film, that I finished in February, got a nomination “Best Edit in a Fashion Film” in Canadian Fashion Film Festival and got selected in Santiago Fashion Film festival. It will also be premiered online on a big platform on June. Also, another project Oh Boy!, a collaboration with Antonin Rioche, choreographer and dancer, in which he created the dance show Oh Boy! And that I readapted in an experimental, fashion & dance movie. It will be out in a couple of month. And many many projects to come! Stay tuned on www.h7o7films.com
H.T: What does it mean to make movies for you?
It’s my way of expressing my feelings in moving images. And it really depends on what kind of movies. My documentaries are not at all like my fashion/experimental films. One you take real life, and you try to show it your way. And others, you create a world that you want people to get in.
H.T: I would like to ask you one last question, the one of autumn. Do we define art? Or does it define us?
Trick question, but very glad you asked it. Because for me it’s really both. The artist is the one creating art, but also art inspires us and especially, we are easily influenced by it. So it’s a downward cicle.
Descarga la entrevista completa en español aquí: