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Look at us Now Mother


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Grade Level: JrH-Adult
Producer: Kirschenbaum Productions
Closed Captioned: Yes
Running Time: 86 mins
Country of Origin: United States
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2015
Available in French: No

What trauma could make a child certain that she was born into the wrong family? What wounds are inflicted when the home that’s supposed to be a haven isolates her as an outsider; when her mother’s words are rarely nurturing but instead, ruthlessly shaming, demeaning and critical? What will it take for the adult that child becomes to forgive such a past? Is forgiveness even possible?
 
This is the dilemma that Emmy® award-winning filmmaker Gayle Kirschenbaum faces in her relentlessly honest and bitingly funny documentary, LOOK AT US NOW, MOTHER! Comprised primarily of decades-worth of intimate family home movies and videos that were never meant for public viewing—from 8 mm film coverage of Gayle’s outwardly “Leave it to Beaver-esque” childhood in an upwardly-mobile Long Island suburb, to personal family celebrations, fights, and even tragedies right up to the present—it’s the story of one determined woman’s quest to reconcile with and understand her past, which means forgiving her proud, narcissistic and formidable elderly mother, Mildred.
 
With raw courage and equal parts humour and pathos, Gayle invites the audience to take this epic journey along with her—an odyssey of discovery with no bump in the road edited out. Gayle is determined to unlock the key to her family’s pain and crack open her mother’s brittle shell. When Mildred grudgingly agrees to participate in the process, the two of them uncover shocking family secrets and long-buried suffering that throw their family history into sharp relief, and begin to shift the dynamics of their complex relationship.
 
The specter of loss haunts the film almost as strongly as the pain of criticism: Mildred is still a powerhouse well into her ninth decade, but Gayle knows her mother won’t be around forever. Can she learn to understand, love and forgive her mother—before it’s too late?
 
Look At Us Now Mother! may be about one mother-daughter relationship, but its insights and lessons are universal. In order to move forward into the future, we all have to forgive what happened in our pasts. Understanding is the first step in that journey. Gayle Kirschenbaum brings her unique brand of fearless honesty and laugh-aloud humour to a film that took decades to shoot, about a relationship that took a lifetime to mend.

"Exploring her mother’s life has helped Kirschenbaum learn to forgive—and to establish a stronger bond with her mother. A powerful family profile, this is recommended."
- Video Librarian
 
“Heartwarming … story of acceptance and forgiveness” – New York Times
 
“Fascinating” – The Village Voice
 
“Charming and endearing” – Variety
 
“Emotional graffiti on celluloid” – Psychology Today
 
“Delightful. Heartbreaking and real” – Associated Press
 
“Touching, provocative” – The Huffington Post
 
“Funny and moving” – The Jerusalem Post 

Awards:
Winner:
Grand Prize, Hearts, Minds, Souls – Flickers:  Rhode Island International Film Festival
Award of Excellence – Impact Docs Awards
Audience Award, Documentary Feature, 2nd Runner Up – Woods Hole Film Festival
 
Official Selection:
Docaviv International Film Festival
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Woodstock Film Festival


Related Documents:
Director Statement/ New York Times Article

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