Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Motherland - A Time For Healing
Not long ago, I embarked on a challenge. I was to review an upcoming documentary, "Motherland", that features the lives of six women who were grieving the loss of a child. In the documentary, these women, in the deepest of mourning, were asked to participate in a journey to South Africa for 17 days and meet people of the country who experience losses on a daily basis to AIDS. The documentary was to look at the effects of the lives of the South Africans on these American women and to explore whether their grief could be "eased" by being in the presence of the South Africans.
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 Steinman’s moving and inspiring first feature, 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 of “Motherland” 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. They 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 this year's 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.
I am going to admit that I hesitated about viewing this documentary. I was afraid that, with all the grief portrayed in the documentary, I would not be able to watch it, much less give a review. I was very surprised.
I connected with these six women and felt their pain throughout the documentary but you could see the healing that was coming from it. One even commented about how much it helped that she did not have to go through the days "pretending" that everything was okay and that she was moving on. With this group of women who shared the same grief, she was able to receive an understanding that most did not have. She could cry or talk about her child, knowing that everyone there knew what she meant and how she felt.
I think that is so important for the healing process.
The ladies connected through their grief and the grief of those they met in South Africa. They visited the schools and the children and interacted in the lives of these people who suffer such great loss of life DAILY.
What I liked best about "Motherland" was watching the progress and "break thrus" of these women. They were healing themselves and the others just by sharing the most horrendous of tragedies: the death of a child.
I strongly suggest to you, my reader, that you view this documentary. Particularly if you are going through a tragedy such as this. You may not be able to run off to South Africa, but knowing that there are others like you and that you can join together to grieve and heal, well, that's very important.
I thank GOD that I have my child and he is well. I cannot imagine the pain and grief that these women suffered but I do know that somehow life must go on. I think "Motherland" can help to show you how.
"Motherland" opened nationally, today, August 26th. Please, take the time to view the trailer to this documentary HERE.
For an online screening of this digital film release, go HERE.
Thank you for stopping by, my friend. God Bless You!