1st Moon: In the Beginning, the Mothers (003)

The first cycle of the program 12 Moons is dedicated to the relationships between the filmmakers, the protagonists and their mothers.

When I hear the deepest truths I speak coming out of my mouth sounding like my mother’s, even remembering how I fought against her, I have to reassess both our relationship as well as the sources of my knowing.

Audre Lorde

Culturally, the figure of the Mother functions as a multifarious and reductive screen of projection. She serves as a symbolic placeholder for the nation-state or as an allegory for failed attempts at overcoming the Oedipal complex. She becomes the epitome of ‘authentic femininity’, while her sexual desire is being negated. She is a metaphor for nature and socialization at the same time. The history of film offers myriads of such stylized representations – ranging from the glorification of the Mother to her demonization.

Mothers* are subjected to an unrealistic multitude of attributions and ascribed duties that force her into positions so demanding that all those involved are inevitably doomed to fail. In turn, the mother*-child relationship can be one of the most crucial relationships in our lives. Yet, it is also the first relationship to get hurt in our current social structure. There cannot be a “good” mother* amidst wrongs. Wounds remain.  

The first cycle attends to this wounds. The program presents five powerful films from various parts of the world: the filmmakers negotiate their relationships with their mothers, share their experiences and offer insights into their emotional worlds. The results are mementos, both tender and skeptical, encounters with complex beings, both alien and familiar. In their attempt at creating mutual understanding, these films demonstrate the vulnerability of daughters and mothers alike with high sensitivity and disarming honesty.

The camera becomes a tool for creating professional distance, while also serving as a portal into intimate worlds, enabling the filmmakers to reflect on their daughterhood: their desire for autonomy and boundaries as well as their yearning for recognition. Different life plans compete, things unspoken come to light, moments of reconciliation and intimateness are followed by moments of distancing. Greater societal issues always resonate from these tangible mother-daughter conflicts.

The filmmakers have found their own ways of confronting their biographies and of working through them. Their film making process has brought them closer to themselves and enabled them to step into their personal as well as political power. With their courageous films, they invite us to look deeper into our own mother wound or to see it in an entirely new light.

Film selection:

Matriarchy by Rosa Navarrete & Patricia Zamorano
USA, 2017, 10 minutes, English and Spanish

A non-linear narrative poetry short film about a defiant Chicana who, since her mother's illness, has been torn between her criminal lifestyle and her succession as matriarch of the family.

Official entry Chicano International Film Festival 2017

Mothership Goes To Brazil by Josefin Arnell
Sweden/Netherlands, 2016, 27 minutes, Swedish with English subtitles

From a burnt Swedish forest, Josefin brings the Mothership (her own mother) to the spiritual city of Abadiania in Brazil to meet João de Deus - one of the world's most famous healers. When she arrives, however, João de Deus is in hospital. A mother-daughter relationship infected with alcoholism, co-dependency and love.

Premiere at the International Documentary Festival, Amsterdam 2016 - PARADOCS & Amsterdam Art Weekend

Ri Chang Dui Hua - Small Talk by Hui-Chen Huang
Taiwan, 2016 , 88 minutes, Taiwanese with English subtitles

Doubt about a mother's love is considered a taboo in Taiwanese culture. Anu is a tomboy and has only had relationships with women since marrying her violent ex-husband, the father of her daughters. As they journey into the past together, the daughter confronts her mother with questions that have plagued her for years. The two women discuss loneliness, trust and abuse. But almost always the discussions end in painful silence. Hui-Chen Huang draws a picture of the changing life situations of women from three generations in Taiwan.

Best Documentary, 31st Teddy Award Official Feature (Panorama), 67th Berlinale Official Feature, 53rd Golden Horse Film Festival Nomination for Best Documentary, 53rd Golden Horse Film Festival Best Editing, 53rd Golden Horse Film Festival

Mutterstücke by Michaela Schäuble, Nan Mellinger, Sandra Kulbach, Johanna Straub
Germany, 2006 , 58 minutes, German with English subtitles

This four-part documentary brings together the life plans of very different women around sixty. The film shows the different, but sometimes also unifying search for traces of four daughters who try to get a picture of their own mother and their common relationship. The linking of the episodes expands the project into a generation portrait that deals with the lives and lifeworlds of women whose influence on society - not professionally, but as mothers through the upbringing of their daughters - is as fundamental as it is silent and invisible.

Funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Science, Research and Culture, Künstlerinnenprogramm 2005 Nomination for best medium-length documentary, Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival 2007 Sponsorship Award of the Thuringian State Chancellery, lm/video tage Koblenz 2007

I AM by Sonali Gulati
India, 2011, 71 minutes, English and Hindi with English subtitles

An Indian lesbian filmmaker returns to Delhi after 11 years to confront the death of her mother, to whom she never came out. Through conversations with parents of other gay Indians, she compiles what family means in an environment where homosexuality is punishable. With courage, determination and humour, families share their stories, which until then had been kept quiet.

Grand Jury Prize - Best Documentary, Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles 2011 Audience Award - Best Documentary, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival Best Documentary, Asian Film Festival of Dallas Audience Award, Asian Film Festival of Dallas Best Documentary, Fargo-Moorehead LGBT Film FestivalBest Documentary, Queer Lisboa Film Festival Best Gay/Lesbian, Great Lakes International Film Festival Special Jury Award, Kashish Film Festival Mumbai Jury Award - Best Documentary, image+nation, Montréal LGBT Film FestivalAudience Award - Best Documentary, Bangalore Queer Film Festival Jury Award - Best Documentary, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Film Festival