Liberty: Mother of Exiles (2019): Culture Closeup | HBO
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Liberty: Mother of Exiles (2019): Culture Closeup | HBO

November 19, 2019


FENTON BAILEY:
Well you know that– The film came about
because of you. (LAUGHING)
You called up saying– -No, no, no, no.
-What? This is how it all happened. ♪ (SOOTHING MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ DIANE VON FURSTENBURG:
Had you been there before? I had been there before,
but I had no idea -of the stories.
-I know… you? Yes, in fact, Randy and I
met at film school, -and our very first project…
-First project. Oh, my God. …we did it
on the Statue of Liberty. -Oh, that’s sweet.
-So it was a… a full circle. FURSTENBURG: In my book,
I talk about my mother. And I talk about,
my mother was a prisoner of war. She survived,
and then I was born. And she wrote me
a little note that said, “God saved me,
so that I can give you life. By giving you life,
you gave me my life back. You are my torch of freedom.” It was my first image
to America when my parents went
to America and I was a little girl. And they send me this postcard, and it was the Statue of Liberty
everywhere. Then when I decided
to live here, and I came by boat because I wanted to take time
to think about my new life, she was there at
six o’clock in the morning. (BIRDS CHIRPING) A lot of our films
are about subjects or ideas that we are
familiar with, or seem overexposed, but we don’t really know
the story. And there was this
great opportunity because the museum
was being built, and you were the godmother
of the museum. FURSTENBURG: What I think
is nice about this movie… is that this adventure,
discovery that’s happening, and as you– You explain it so well
in the movie, she belongs to everyone,
everyone borrows her, everybody uses her,
everybody puts her wherever. It’s a fundraising story
from the very beginning. And we didn’t know that,
when– when we started out making
this film, following the process
of a new museum. But we–
we came to discover… that, you know, even before
the statue was built, there were these
little souvenirs that– that the sculptor made
to raise money -to build the statue.
-Well, it’s because he started to build it
in the streets of Paris, and as she became too big
to be inside, she was really in the streets,
so to speak, and therefore, people would come by,
What is this?” And in order to raise money, they made little statues
and so on. I thought that one thing
that I discovered that I hadn’t really realized,
it’s– You know, it’s this big statue, and it’s standing there
in the harbor, but the statue
is actually moving. That foot is raised,
it had broken the chains, and moving forward. It was important
to have the students of Ellis Prep, because,
at that school, it’s immigrants
coming to America and so many people in America,
all of us, really, are immigrants. Because the statue
is for everyone, it’s not just for a few. I’m so happy with the film
because I do think it isn’t–
it isn’t a critique… A political, uh, polemic. It has been a backdrop
for protests over the years. I think it’s part of the fact
that she represents the ideals of America,
and one of those is free speech. I mean, she represents
the best of who we are. And I think people are drawn
to Lady Liberty when they sometimes question,
we aren’t being the best -of who we are.
-FURSTENBURG: And she– And she is a symbol
of the American constitution. Because it’s the American
constitution that inspired the French
to make it, to pay for it, and to give it to us. BAILEY:
It is a reminder of who we are. You know, now that–
now it’s all done, what do you hope
people take away from it, after they’ve seen it? Well I hope that they feel
like we felt, this incredible discovery,
and– and then wanting to know more,
and more, and more about it. And it gives you hope. ♪ (MUSIC CONCLUDES) ♪

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