The MotherLa Mère
SWITZERLAND, FRANCE, RUSSIA / 2007 / Russian / Color / Video / 80 min
Directors, Script, Photograhy, Editing, Sound: Antoine Cattin, Pavel Kostomarov
Production Company: Les Films Hors-Champ
Producer, World Sales: Elena Hill
In the snowfields of Russia, Liuba flees her violent husband, taking her nine children with her. Working on a dairy farm, she and her eldest daughter raise the children, their daily life flooded with violence and raised voices, vodka and poverty. Married off at 14, Liuba says “I haven’t been happy for even one moment,” but every close-up of her face conveys her sincere, focused way of living and unconditional love. The codirectors abstain from commenting, and simply observe this family’s close existence.
[Director’s Statement] There are in fact only two types of cinema: one that speaks about love and one that speaks about hate. The Mother belongs to the first category.
What makes this mother’s story exceptional are not only the “facts,” even if they are telling: at the age of 14, she was “given in marriage” by her own mother, in exchange for a bottle of vodka; then, she endured her husband’s violence, and she finally fled, taking her nine children with her. Those are the facts. Now, it is because of her boundless love, in spite of it all, that she is extraordinary. And this is what we tried to depict.
Our intention was to draw her emotional portrait, at once realistic and poetic: a prodigiously strong woman who, despite hardship and the poverty of the society around her, finds the will and strength to continue fighting for her children’s happiness. This was an extremely precious gift to us. This film conveys a message of love and hope for many.
Our approach belongs to observation cinema, and to a committed cinéma vérité: what counts most in our eyes is the authenticity of the feelings and emotions from life caught unawares.
In order to narrate The Mother, we have tried to combine this raw realism with poetic form, both in the composition of the shots at the moment of filming and during the editing. The outcome of our efforts is a film that crosses the boundaries between documentary and fiction films, and we hope that viewers will appreciate this.
(From the right)
Born in 1975 in Switzerland, Cattin finished his studies in history, film, and Russian at the University of Lausanne in 2001. He worked as an editor of the film journal Hors-Champ, and in Russia as assistant to the director Sergei Loznitsa. He has divided his time between Switzerland and Russia for the past six years.
Born in 1975 in Russia, Kostomarov finished his studies at the State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in 2003. He has worked on many films as a cameraman and director of photography (including films directed by Sergei Loznitsa, Alexei Utschitel, and Alexei Popogrebsky). He divides his time between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
For their project The Mother, Cattin and Kostomarov took part in the Discovery Campus Masterclass in 2005. They are currently collaborating on a film project about the Russian director Alexei German, It is Difficult to Be God.