An interview with SILVIA DE LEONARDIS, director of “On the line”

An interview with SILVIA DE LEONARDIS, director of “On the line”

Silvia de Leonardis

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.”

Vincent van Gogh

Silvia de Leonardis grew up in Munich, Germany as the daughter of a South-Italian father and a German-Russian mother. At a very young age she was awe inspired by the acting of Bette Davis and wanted nothing more but to become as an actress in the United States. In 2017 she got the O-1 Visa for the United States and landed her first role that same year. After her education, she began successfully playing theatre in Germany and Switzerland. In 1999 she got her first role in the TV series “Der Clown”. Soon after that, she produced and directed her first theatre play “Gretchen 89ft” by Lutz Huebner in Munich, which was sold out every night. Followed by appearances in Tatort, Grossglocknerliebe, SOKO 5113, Die Rosenheim-Cops, Die Manns, Pater Castell, Kuestenwache, Unter uns, Marienhof and more. Silvia also became quite successful and popular as a Film-Coach on set. With this experience and the wish to bring onscreen the images and stories from within her, she started producing and directing her first shortfilm “Kaufkrank” in 2015 and “On the line” in 2018 (, for which she received many awards and nominations all over the world. Silvia loves telling deep stories from the edge of society to comfort people who are in similar situations and to hold gently a mirror up to the audience for self reflection. Her favorite roles are strong women leading characters who are fighting for love and/or justice. Silvia de Leonardis lives in Munich, is married and has a daughter

– You have chosen to tell a very intimate and complex story, a daily drama between ordinary people, full of deep emotions. What led you to choose this story?

The voices inside me. At that time when I eventually wrote „On the Line“ I had to travel a lot to Los Angeles and leave my 11 year old daughter and my husband in Germany. Working in LA was my dream since I was a child. And when it finally happened it was breathtaking on the one hand, but also a sacrifice on the other. Sometimes it was hard to juggle all. I was on facetime with my daughter almost daily, sometimes for hours, doing homework, laughing, even shopping. And then I had to work till late at night to catch up. Everything worked out good, but I stressed myself out to do everything justice and I began to have feelings of inadequacy. I couldn’t stop thinking about failing as a mother. To voice that and work this out, I wrote „On the Line“


– Your film can tell a great story in the space of an apartment, perfectly reconciling production needs with your creative process. Thanks to this kind of solutions it is still possible to make beautiful films outside the big production circuits. What is the most important advantage of independent cinema for you?

The main advantage of independent cinema for me is that I am able to write and tell the stories that matter to me. And that I am able to take risks, try things out and grow beyond my limits. It´s such a freedom we have today as artists. 20 years ago you couldn´t afford making a shortfilm – that was why I produced a theatre play instead.



– One of the most interesting and exciting aspects of your film is certainly acting. In such a powerful drama, how do you manage to bring an actor into these deep emotions?

Well, thank you very much for this compliment. That means a lot to me, because true acting with soul and deepness is my biggest goal. Without that you can hardly touch people. I, myself, had the big fortune of being trained by the best acting teacher in the world. Combined with my work as a Filmcoach on Set for 6 years, where I had to prepare the lead actors in a very short time to give the best possible result, it was easy to guide my actors through this process. You simply need to know what they die for and some other things and you can lead them with imagination. In a time where acting has often become second-rate, I want to set a mark for how beautiful this craft is and also how powerful it is.



– Do you believe that art in some way can help people who live in states of strong emotional instability? Or for you the film medium is limited to telling how things are?

I absolutely believe in that! I remember my very first shortfilm „Kaufkrank“ in 2015. I struggled very much with the technique at that time, so that the sound and also the images weren´t good enough to submit it to filmfestivals. But I have put it on youtube. This story is about an emotional instable mother who was beating and neglecting her little 8-year old daughter. When I did this film I thought „If only one mother or father who is seeing this film would beat their child one time less, I would have done something good. I would have been successful.“ And you know what? I´m still touched thinking about this, I got dozens of eMails from people I didn´t know. People who had suffered from being beaten as a child. Men. Women. And one mother wrote me, that she has seen my film and was still crying. That she beats her daughter sometimes, too. And that she wanted to go get therapy. This touched me to the bone and this is what success means to me.