Birth on the Border

Seeking a safer future for their children, two women from Ciudad Juárez, risk harassment at the hands of Border Patrol to cross the US-Mexico border legally to give birth in El Paso, Texas.
Learn more

The Motherhood Archives

Archival montage, science fiction and an homage to 1970s feminist filmmaking are woven together to form this haunting and lyrical essay film excavating hidden histories of childbirth in the twentieth century. After several years of buying films online and working in historical archives, award-winning filmmaker Irene Lusztig amassed an unusual and fascinating collection of found footage aimed at teaching women how to be pregnant, give birth, and look after babies, along with training films for obstetricians and health care professionals, and a handful of home movies. Assembling her extraordinary trove from over 100 different sources, including newly rediscovered Soviet and French childbirth material tracing the evolution of Lamaze, THE MOTHERHOOD ARCHIVES inventively untangles the complex, sometimes surprising genealogies of maternal education. This extraordinary achievement illuminates our changing narratives of maternal success and failure while raising important questions about our social and historical constructions of motherhood.
Learn more

Mothers of Bedford

 Women are the fastest-growing U.S. prison population today. Eighty percent are mothers of school-age children. Jenifer McShane's absorbing documentary gives human dimensions to these rarely reported statistics, taking us inside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison north of New York City. Shot over four years, MOTHERS OF BEDFORD follows five women - of diverse backgrounds and incarcerated for different reasons- in dual struggles to be engaged in their children's lives and become their better selves. It shows how long-term sentences affect mother-child relationships and how Bedford's innovative Children's Center helps women maintain and improve bonds with children and adult relatives awaiting their return. Whether it be parenting's normal frustrations to celebrating a special day, from both inside and out of the prison walls, this moving film provides unprecedented access to a little known, rarely shown, community of women.
Learn more

A Girl Like Her

From 1945-73, 1.5 million unmarried young American women, facing enormous social pressures, surrendered babies to adoption. Lacking sex education and easy access to birth control, they were forced into hiding while pregnant and then into “abandoning” their infants. In her latest film, Ann Fessler, Professor of Photography at Rhode Island School of Design, reprises the subject of her award-winning The Girls Who Went Away (National Book Critics Circle; Ballard Book Prize), which Ms. readers named an all-time best feminist book. Drawing on interviews with 100 women, Fessler lets them have their say and brings hidden history to light. We hear only their voices, which detail wrenching experiences against images from vintage newsreel and educational films reinforcing stereotypes of women’s roles following WWII. This gripping documentary will help today’s students grasp what life was like before the sexual and feminist revolutions had fully dawned.
Learn more

Water Children

In this acclaimed, hauntingly beautiful film, director Aliona van der Horst follows the unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama as she explores the miracle of fertility and the cycle of life—sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic. When Mukaiyama recognized that her childbearing years were ending, she created a multimedia art project on the subject in a village in Japan, constructing what she calls a cathedral, out of 12,000 white silk dresses. While Mukaiyama’s own mesmerizing music provides a haunting backdrop to the film, her installation elicits confessions from its normally reticent Japanese visitors, many of whom have never seen art before—and in moving scenes they open up about previously taboo subjects. Mukaiyama’s courageous approach to a subject that remains unspoken in many cultures is explored with an elegance and sophistication that deepens our understanding of the relationship between body and mind.
Learn more

Made in India: A Film about Surrogacy

In San Antonio, Lisa and Brian Switzer risk their savings with a Medical Tourism company promising them an affordable solution after seven years of infertility. Halfway around the world in Mumbai, 27-year-old Aasia Khan, mother of three, contracts with a fertility clinic to be implanted with the Texas couple’s embryos. MADE IN INDIA, about real people involved in international surrogacy, follows the Switzers and Aasia through every stage of the process. With its dual focus, this emotionally charged, thoroughly absorbing film charts obstacles faced by the Switzers and presents intimate insights into Aasia’s circumstances and motivation. As their stories become increasingly intertwined, the bigger picture behind offshore outsourcing of pregnancies—a booming, unregulated reproductive industry valued at $450 million in India alone—begins to emerge. So do revealing questions about international surrogacy’s legal and ethical implications, global corporate practices, human and reproductive rights, and commodification of the body.
Learn more

Latching On

After filmmaker Katja Esson’s sister gave birth in Germany, she was able to breastfeed her baby anywhere and at any time. Returning home to New York, Esson found that breastfeeding was rarely practiced and largely unseen. Academy Award® Nominee Esson (Ferry Tales) turned her quirky eye on the subject and set out to learn why this was so. Her wide-ranging, frequently funny documentary highlights the intersecting economic, social, and cultural forces that have helped replace mother’s milk with formula produced by a billion dollar industry, and reveals the challenges and rewards for women who buck the trend. Latching On draws on lively first-hand accounts from mothers of diverse ethnicities and economic backgrounds, as well as candid observations by pediatricians, healthcare providers, lactation specialists, and the proprietor of New York’s first breastfeeding boutique. Including data about paid maternity leave, hospital post-delivery policies, and workplace accommodations for nursing mothers, the film compares current US practices with standards adopted elsewhere. Tensions around public breastfeeding and "breast is best" promotion campaigns highlight society's perceived interest in regulating women's reproductive behavior, as well as the power of culture to assign sexual and moral meaning to mothers' bodies. Entertaining and insightful, Latching On is an important analysis of the politics of breastfeeding, illuminating the complexities behind a simple, natural act.
Learn more

A Crushing Love

A CRUSHING LOVE, Sylvia Morales’ sequel to her groundbreaking history of Chicana women, CHICANA (1979), honors the achievements of five activist Latinas—labor organizer/farm worker leader Dolores Huerta, author/educator Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, writer/playwright/educator Cherrie Moraga, civil rights advocate Alicia Escalante, and historian/writer Martha Cotera - and considers how these single mothers managed to be parents and effect broad-based social change at the same time. Questions about reconciling competing demands are ones that highly acclaimed filmmaker Sylvia Morales, a working mother of two herself, pondered aloud as she prepared this documentary. Historical footage and recent interviews with each woman reveal their contributions to key struggles for Latino empowerment and other major movements of our time. Both they and their grown children thoughtfully explore the challenges, adaptations, rewards, and missteps involved in juggling dual roles. Scenes of Morales at work and at home, often humorously overlaid with her teenage daughter’s commentary, bring the dilemma up to date. Chicana continues to be used in classrooms more than thirty years after it was made; A CRUSHING LOVE is a memorable sequel which offers us indelible portraits of unforgettable women, including one of Morales herself.
Learn more

My Toxic Baby

This eye-opening, often amusing documentary by the director of Tiger Spirit, winner of Canada’s prestigious Donald Brittain Gemini Award, records the filmmaker’s quest for safe, sane and affordable ways to raise her child in a world embedded with toxic threats and still lead a normal life. Although new mother Min Sook Lee breast fed her daughter from birth, she used baby bottles too, only to discover that they leached a chemical byproduct linked to impaired health and serious diseases. This set in motion a journey that exposes hidden dangers in infant bath soaps, diaper rash creams, teething toys and many everyday products from an industry largely unregulated by law. For Lee, it also uncovers risks posed by our own homes and chemical contaminants we carry within our own bodies. Her search introduces us to others, including nursing mothers and parents helping to build youngsters’ natural immune systems, who are seeking alternative choices themselves and finding healthier, environment-friendly ways to rear their children. A personal essay that packs a punch, MY TOXIC BABY throws a spotlight on non-hazardous options that are available in our chemically saturated world, and further emphasizes women’s particular concerns about environmental hazards and health.
Learn more

Mrs. Goundo's Daughter

Mrs. Goundo is fighting to remain in the United States. But it’s not just because of the ethnic conflict and drought that has plagued her native Mali. Threatened with deportation, her two-year-old daughter could be forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), like 85 percent of women and girls in Mali. Using rarely cited grounds for political asylum, Goundo must convince an immigration judge that her daughter is in danger. Sensitive and moving, this important film reveals how women are profoundly affected by the legal struggles surrounding immigration. As issues of asylum, international law and human rights collide with FGM and its devastating health consequences, filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater travel between an FGM ceremony in a Malian village, where dozens of girls are involved, to the West African expatriate community of Philadelphia, where Mrs. Goundo challenges beliefs and battles the American legal system for her child’s future.
Learn more

Tillie Olsen: A Heart in Action

This revelatory documentary is an inspiring homage to Tillie Lerner Olsen – a renegade, revolutionary, distinguished fiction and non-fiction writer, feminist, humanist, labor organizer and social activist. Politically active, class conscious, deeply joined to the world, Tillie countered the very core of American writing by immortalizing the lives of working class women and single mothers. Her short stories “Tell Me a Riddle,” and “I Stand Here Ironing,” galvanized the literary world and set in motion an essential new perspective on the lives of ordinary women. Filmmaker Ann Hershey tells not only the story of Olsen as a writer, but also documents her life as an activist. Extended interviews with Olsen during the last years of her life are deftly interspersed with footage from her readings, lectures and book signings as well as with archive materials and comments from notable feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Alice Walker. A perfect companion film in courses covering Olsen’s literature, this documentary is also recommended for women’s studies, labor studies, political studies and American history courses.
Learn more

Troop 1500

Their mothers may be convicted thieves, murderers and drug dealers, but the girls of Troop 1500 want to be doctors, social workers and marine biologists. With meetings once a month at Hilltop Prison in Gatesville, Texas, this innovative Girl Scout program brings daughters together with their inmate mothers, offering them a chance to rebuild their broken relationships. Intimately involved with the troop for several years, the directors took their cameras far beyond meetings to explore the painful context of broken families. Powerful insight comes from interviews shot by the girls themselves, which reveal their conflicted feelings of anger and joy, abandonment and intimacy—as well as the deep influence their mothers still have on them. An estimated 1.5 million children have incarcerated parents and 90 percent of female inmates are single parents. Their daughters are six times more likely to land in the juvenile justice system. TROOP 1500 poignantly reveals how an inspired yet controversial effort by the more than 90-year old Girl Scouts organization is working to help these at-risk young girls deal with their unique circumstances and break the cycle of crime within families.
Learn more

For My Children

In October 2000, as the second Palestinian Intifada erupts, Israeli filmmaker Michal Aviad begins an exploration about both the moral and mundane dilemmas she faces every day in Tel Aviv. What begins with deceptive simplicity-a tender scene of sending the children off to school-quickly becomes a profound study of vulnerability and anxiety. Small acts like crossing the street are charged with inescapable fear. As the nightmare of violence escalates over the coming months, Michal and her husband Shimshon ask the quintessential Diaspora Jewish question, "When is it time to go?" The question reverberates through a stream of images-public and private, home video and historic archival footage-as her parents and extended family recount their own journeys to Israel from Europe, escaping death and the Holocaust, and from America, out of ideological commitment to Israel. Their stories are told with vivid, beautiful detail-at a bucolic family picnic, during a vacation on the California coast-and with a degree of candor and intimacy rarely seen in Israeli cinema. "I don't want to be an immigrant," says Shimshon, a political activist whose profound feelings about displacement and exile are interwoven with TV images of war, children asleep in their beds, grandma making pasta and the sounds of sirens. Tanks roll over the hills as tea is being made in the kitchen in a cosmic seesaw between blissful domesticity and the nightmare of public life, in this deeply moving and riveting video essay. -Deborah Kaufman
Learn more

Subrosa

SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact. Originally shot on digital video, the film captures the grit and garishness of an alien urban landscape while plumbing the melancholy dream space where the character retreats even as she searches for her very life. Brimming with surreal, breathtaking, elegiac imagery, this sensuously rendered tale of loss, love and longing resonates long after its shocking conclusion.
Learn more

Don't Fence Me In

Against the broader backdrop of modern India's political and social history, this lyrical documentary tells the story of the life of Krishna Sikand, the filmmaker's mother, from childhood to maturity. A rich mosaic of memory and impressions, DON'T FENCE ME IN captures the fragmented way in which we journey back through time. Evoking Krishna's earliest years in pre-independence Bombay as the daughter of a well-to-do Bengali family, the film also traces her post-colonial experiences--from marriage to a Punjabi army officer in the face of fierce family opposition, through the raising of two daughters and successful careers as an academic, small business entrepreneur, media consultant, journalist, and poet. Black-and-white photos of Krishna as a child and young woman are juxtaposed with clips from home movies shot by the filmmaker's father nearly thirty years ago, and recent location footage. Krishna's personal narrative is highlighted by her wonderful letters to her daughter and the poems that serve as milestones in her life.
Learn more

In the Best Interests of the Children

This groundbreaking film on lesbian mothering portrays the diversity of experience, race and class among eight lesbian mothers and their children.
Learn more

Daughter Rite

"Daughter Rite is a classic, the missing link between the 'direct Cinema' documentaries and the later hybrids that acknowledged truth couldn't always be found in front of a camera lens. Scandalous in its day for bending the rules of representation to enlighten its audience about filmmaking, DAUGHTER RITE has a lot to teach folks hooked on reality TV, too. Citron's documentary inquiries into feminism, women in the trades, and feminist approaches to media representation are time capsules that merit re-opening." -B. Ruby Rich, author of " Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement" Includes special bonus feature, WHAT YOU TAKE FOR GRANTED, also by Michelle Citron.
Learn more

The Audition

The filmmaker's sister, Jane Campion, journeys home to New Zealand to audition her onetime actress mother for a small role as a schoolteacher in her film adaptation of Janet Frame's autobiographies, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE. The mother is somewhat resistant to the role, the camera and what she perceives as her daughter's manipulation. The daughter has her own resistance-to her mother's dark vision of the world. This deceptively simple drama, filmed with elegance and restraint, reveals nuances of mother/daughter roles while challenging the realist aesthetic.
Learn more

The Mother: Mitos Maternos

This wry, self-reflective film explores the mythical figure of the mother from multiple viewpoints-documentary and fiction, Spanish and English, theory and experience. The director interviews people on the street, views Hollywood stalwarts of maternal sentiment like Stella Dallas, reads what feminist thinkers have to say on the subject, and copes with life as a single Latina mother. A feminist telenovela for the 90s, THE MOTHER challenges popular beliefs about the mother's place and traditional representations of sacrifice and guilt.
Learn more

Knowing Her Place

A moving investigation of the cultural schizophrenia experienced by Vasu, an Indian woman who has spent most of her life in the U.S. Vasu's relationships with her mother and grandmother in India and her husband and teenage sons in New York, reveal profound conflicts between her traditional upbringing and her personal and professional aspirations. The film fuses photographs, vérité sequences and experimental techniques to probe the multilayered experience of immigrant women with rare candor and emotional resonance. Useful for courses on immigration, sex roles and the study of documentary form.
Learn more

I Need Your Full Cooperation/Underexposed

In these two compelling films, Kathy High explores the relationship between women’s bodies and the medical institution. Now a classic, I NEED YOUR FULL COOPERATION (1989, 28 mins) is a critical commentary on the patriarchal medical world and the past experimental techniques used to control female sexuality and reproductive capacities. Combining drama and documentary, UNDEREXPOSED: THE TEMPLE OF THE FETUS, (1992, 72 mins) is a savvy and creative documentary probe into the high-tech baby-making market and emerging reproductive technologies.
Learn more

Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter

With profound insight and a healthy dose of levity, COMPLAINTS OF A DUTIFUL DAUGHTER chronicles the various stages of a mother's Alzheimer's Disease and the evolution of a daughter's response to the illness. The desire to cure the incurable-to set right her mother's confusion and forgetfulness, to temper her mother's obsessiveness-gives way to an acceptance which is finally liberating for both daughter and mother. Neither depressing nor medical, COMPLAINTS OF A DUTIFUL DAUGHTER is much more than a story about Alzheimer's and family caregiving. It is ultimately a life-affirming exploration of family relations, aging and change, the meaning of memory, and love.
Learn more

On Becoming a Woman

This extraordinary documentary provides rare insights into some important health issues for African American women. Although it was produced before AIDS was a major factor for women, ON BECOMING A WOMAN deals candidly and constructively with teen pregnancy, providing in-depth information about reproduction, birth control, self-examination and sexual activity. Filmed primarily during the National Black Women's Health Project workshop sessions, this historic film also demonstrates models for trust and communication between mothers and daughters.
Learn more

The Body Beautiful

This bold, stunning exploration of a white mother who undergoes a radical mastectomy and her Black daughter who embarks on a modeling career reveals the profound effects of body image and the strain of racial and sexual identity on their charged, intensely loving bond. At the heart of Onwurah’s brave excursion into her mother’s scorned sexuality is a provocative interweaving of memory and fantasy. The filmmaker plumbs the depths of maternal strength and daughterly devotion in an unforgettable tribute starring her real-life mother, Madge Onwurah.
Learn more
Shopping Cart