Friday, 21 August 2009
An honest and intimate look at the complexities of grief and healing, Motherland is about resilience, triumph of the human spirit and the power of unconditional love. It also reminds us of the vastly different ways in which disparate cultures confront deeply felt personal challenges.
Each year over eight million families around the world suffer the loss of a child. In Jennifer Steinman’s moving and inspiring documentary film, a 17-day trip to South Africa transforms the lives of six grieving women from across the US. Unexpectedly and eight thousand miles from home, each finds comfort and healing in a landscape that appears, at first, to offer little more than melancholy.
Prior to their journey, the six intrepid women featured in the film have each suffered the death of a child but otherwise have little in common. And although the anticipation of a long, emotional journey with a group of strangers evokes anxiety, the women all share a desire to make sense of their tragedies and to move forward with their lives...
Debbi works as a paramedic in a rural Northern California town. Her son Garrett was hit by a drunk driver on the side of a highway while waiting for his car to be towed.
Mary Helena, an African-American actress and storyteller from urban Wisconsin, suffered a debilitating stroke less than a year after her son Aaron was killed in a triple-homicide.
Anne is married to an advertising executive in San Francisco and works as a volunteer for a local children’s charity. Her daughter Grace died of suicide at the age of 15.
Kathy, a suburban mom from Santa Rosa, California, works in a hospital emergency room. Her husband is a local police officer. Their son Mike died in a motorcycle accident.
Barbara, a nursing student from the small town of Dixon, California, is struggling with her impending divorce. Her marriage began to unravel after her son Jason died in a head-on collision.
Lauren is a 22-year old student from Oakland, California, and the youngest member of the group. Her older brother, Teveston, was killed by angry gang members who retaliated when he refused to join.
These six remarkable women travel half way around the world where they live with local families and work with African organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children. As they come to know each other, they assist teachers in over-crowded day care centers, lead activities with abused and at-risk teens and help care for physically-challenged youth. The work is meaningful and rewarding and a welcome reprieve from the depression, isolation and stagnation of life at home. In the end, the women share not just their stories and their pain but themselves – with and for each other and even more profoundly, with the children who touch their hearts at every turn.
Motherland was the winner of the 2009 Emerging Visions Audience Award at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. Its other awards include the Jury Prize for Best Feature at the 2009 Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and Best Documentary at the 2009 California Independent Film Festival.
Director: Jennifer Steinman
Theatrical Release: Aug 26, 2009