Posts Tagged ‘Sheffield Doc Fest’

Almost Liverpool 8 (2021)

Dir: Daniel Draper | UK Doc, 89′

Daniel Draper makes the Toxteth area of Liverpool cinematic in his summery trip through the streets of the neighbourhood known 50 years ago for its race riots.

Billed as Don McCullin: Almost Liverpool 8 in the Sheffield Doc Festival programme, we were hoping for another look at the renowned photographer’s life. But he only bookends the film chipping in occasionally with memories of a time when he worked on the railways in the 1950s as a teenager, wending his way back and forth between London and the deprived place he recalls as “dark and Satanic” back in the day. As a war photojournalist decades later he would capture the Toxteth community during an era of transition and decline.

McCullin is joined by a motley crew of friendly, laid-back locals who shoot the breeze on camera with Draper, their chats interweaved with Allan Melia’s artfully framed long takes. What emerges is a calm and reflective love letter to a working class district now home to a multicultural bunch who now get along like a house on fire – or so they would have us believe: Victorian churches and mosques standing cheek by jowl.

Liverpool was once a major industrial seaport the maritime trade providing the lucrative backbone of a place whose well built low rise red-brick housing now offers ample opportunity for a chat over the fence or a neighbourly meeting on the doorstep. Roads are named after composers (Brahms, Beethoven etc) and Dickens characters, but there is little evidence of the high-rise housing blocks, crime or the rank social deprivation we had come to associate with the place.

Local Poet Roger McGough is joined by salt of the earth beekeeper Barry Chang; a hairdresser tells of her regular Somalian clientele. Then there’s   community organiser Joe Farrag who laments the loss of local shops that once energised the area when sailors regularly passed through on their way from the docks. An lyrical look at a proud and welcoming Toxteth in 2021.MT

NOW ON RELEASE

SHEFFIELD DOCFEST 2021 UK COMPETITION

 

 

Mother (2019) Locarno

Dir.: Kristof Bilsen; Doc with Chutimon Sonsirichai (Pomm), Elisabeth Röhmer, Maya Gloor, Walter Gloor; Belgium 2019, 82 min.

People are living longer but not always enjoying a healthy or happy old age in Western Europe. Kristof Bilsen tackles the alarming truths behind our care home crisis in his heart-breaking documentary that sees a Swiss family sending their mother across the world to live out her final years with perfect strangers.  

But before you jump to condemn them, just consider this. Many Thai women come to the UK each year to enjoy the benefits of our strong economy that allows them to make a living by offering their unique talents as masseuses and alternative health professionals. Their kids are left with their extended families back in the East, and see their mothers only one or twice a year. Meanwhile UK care homes charge extortionate amounts of money just for bed and board ( BUPA charge a basic £100,o00 per annum in central London), while bosses cream off the profits and pay their care staff a pittance. Many of them are not trained carers, and are unable to communicate adequately with older residents due to their poor English skills. Often they have little aptitude or interest in their badly paid jobs. It’s a critical situation that seems to indicate that this Swiss family could be doing their mother a favour, and even saving her money, into the bargain.

In Thailand, Pomm looks after Alzheimers patients from German-speaking countries in the Baan Kamlangchay hospice near Chiang-Mai. Her own three children are looked after by her husband and extended family. She too is badly paid but infinitely more compassionate, working an eight hour shift, with another job to make ends meet, her relationship with her husband is strained.

In this tranquil sanctuary, Swiss citizen Elisabeth Röhmer is in the final stages of Alzheimers, but Pomm remembers when she loved to do the crossword and helped the carers learn English. After Elisabeth’s death, Pomm will be responsible for Maya, a mother of three from Zofingen in Switzerland. Her husband Walter and three daughters Joyce, Sara and Tanya are struggling to find suitable care for grandma Maya, so the clinic in Thailand seems the best solution. ”It would be selfish to keep her here so we could see her all the time. She gets much better care in Thailand”. And this true because Maya, like Elisabeth before her, will have three carers working round the clock.

Once she arrives with her family in Thailand Maya takes time to settle down in her new environment, awoken by exotic birdsong on her first morning. She is clearly not as happy about the move as the Gloor family would have us believe as they share their last Christmas together far from home. On a boat trip, they discuss how to say goodbye to Maya. Super 8 mm family films show a younger Maya in happier times. Back home in Switzerland, the Gloors Skype Maya who is still affected by their departure but adapting to her new circumstances.

So is there such a difference between East and West? Clearly in the Far East there is far more respect for adults, their wisdom and experience is highly valued both by the family and society as a whole. This extends to the process of dying as we saw in Locarno winner MRS FANG. It seems like a double whammy when elderly members of the family lose their dignity and need our care and patience while they remain critical, controlling and difficult, as in the case with dread diseases such as Alzheimers. Their dehumanisation process is disorientating, their loss of dignity strangely infantalises them in the eyes of those who once looked up to them and respected their seniority. We expect to look after our kids, but not our parents. And England has now become a child-centric culture, where children have become the objects of desire, admiration and wonder. Rather than wise elders we puts the young on a pedestal, as was seen recently in the case of Swedish teen, Greta Thunberg.

Bilsen remains objective in his fascinating and thought-provoking film, Pomm reflecting that her job has shown her the difference between rich and poor. Really? Maya has three care givers because the Swiss family can afford it, yet the carers in both countries are badly paid. The difference is that over here in the UK the care is poor even when you throw money at it; clearly compassion cannot be bought and that is reflected back in the attitude we have regarding the elderly, who also are our elders. Pomm wonders (as do we all) what will happen to her if she becomes a victim of Alzheimers. Who will care for her? All over the world we are relying on others to care for our loved ones because we are too busy looking after ourselves. MT

LOCARNO WORLD PREMIERE | AVAILABLE ON VOD ITUNES, AMAZON & GOOGLE | 11 JANUARY 2021

Sisters with Transistors (2020) Bfi player

Dir.: Lisa Rovner; Documentary narrated by Laurie Anderson; France 2019, 85 min.

Paris based writer/director Lisa Rovner looks at the women pioneers behind electronic music in a lively new documentary. Sisters With Transistors shows how women opened up new avenues of creativity, despite prevailing male attitudes at the time  to these talented musicians having to wait a lifetime to hear their own compositions on the airwaves.

The honour of being first goes to Lithuanian born Clara Rockmore (1911-1998). Trained as a violinist at the conservatoire, she then took up an early synthesiser style instrument. We watch her in the garden of her New York house in 1934, with the sound artist Aura Satz commenting how Rockmore describes her art  allowing “the self-created sound to change the music”.

British composer Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) was also an early pioneer working in the BBC’s Radiophonic workshop, surrounded by electronic generators, producing music via a TV monitor, culminating in a structural version of ‘white noise’. In her own living room she worked with huge radios, up to two meters high. At Oxford, she was part of just ten percent of female students. The Nazi bombing of Coventry, and the London Blitz, inspired her to a new world of sounds. Equally, the CND marches inspired her to compose music “from the Cold War”. But her greatest and most lasting achievement is the eerie, a-tonal intro-music for Dr. Who, a series starting in 1963. 

Daphne Oram (1925-2003), co-founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, composed prolifically: Amphitryon 1958, Private Dreams and Public Places – both pieces evoking Huxley’s SciFi novels. Oram worked with paint on the glass plates, which distributed the music onto the tape recorder. Her Birds of Parallax is a sort of dance music and shown with a newsreel film clip of ‘modern’ dancing’.

Eliane Radigue (*1932) grew up near Nice airport, her music was based on the very different sounds the planes made. She created a sound stage, which became a musical universe. Working as an assistant to composer Pierre Schaeffer in an otherwise male-only crew, she was told by a co-worker “How nice it is, to have you in the studio, it smells good”. At the end of the 60s when working with Pierre Henry, Radigue discovered the feedback technique, by “finding the sweet spot between a speaker and a microphone, making the sound evolve.” She called it “Sonic propositions”. 

Meanwhile, in 1952, in New York’s Greenwich Village, electronic composers Bebe Baron (1926-2008) and her husband Louis wrote the music to Belle of Atlantis by Ian Hugo and Anias Nin. In 1956 they composed the soundtrack to Forbidden Planet, but the musicians union fought successful against a credit on the feature – they had to be happy with being mentioned as “Electronic tonalities” contributors. 

Pauline Oliveros (193-2016) was a lesbian, a revolutionary and a composer of electronic music in 1950s San Francisco which was, at the time, nearly as conservative as the rest of USA. But, it was also a time, when some artists wanted to be not like anybody else. Having been given a tape recorder for her birthday in 1965, Pauline went on to make a career as a composer, starting with’ Bye, bye Butterfly’, a Japanese influenced ballet. Many composers had in common “They they were ghost riding on different frequencies”, as Mayanne Amacher put it.

All these women had to fight simply to stay alive, Wendy Carlos (*1939) is the exception. Invited by a very young David Letterman to appear on his show, she amazed him with her music producing equipment that saw her becoming arguably the first woman to secure lucrative commercials, and a staring role in Hollywood production of The Incredible Shrinking woman“.   

Rovner returns to Eliane Radiguet, who was interviewed in 2018 in Paris, listening to some of her music for the first time. “Thirty, forty years ago, it would have been impossible for musicians to play my music. I am hearing it for the first time. In the past, if often thought, I was crazy”.

In her impressive debut, Rovner wisely avoids the talking heads approach that can often spoil the integrity of a documentary, interweaving her film instead with informative historical newsreels and fascinating archive footage. AS

NOW ON BFI PLAYER

  

 

Please Hold The Line (2020) **** Sheffield Doc Festival 2020

Wri/Dir: Pavel Cuzuioc | Doc, Austria 86′

The past and the present collide in this darkly amusing deep dive into the human side of the digital age. And each are as complex as the other according to Pavel Cuzuoic, whose third documentary works on two levels: As an abstract expressionist arthouse piece and a deadpan social and political satire. What emerges is a priceless look at a society in flux in Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. The old fights with the new, refusing to give in.

Pavel Cuzuoic started his film career as a sound recordist notably for Nikolaus Geyrhalter in Earth. Essentially a series of episodes involving human experiences with the internet and telephony, this is an expertly edited atmospheric film that proves that human contact is still king. The digital age with its pretensions to slimline and simplify our connection with a wider experience often fails. Our most enriching and successful exchanges are still one to one with each other. A pile of cables in a server farm is just as messy as the chaos of human existence. And this dichotomy provides a rich thread of humour that runs through this informative film like an internet cable.

It opens in a server farm in Cricova, Moldavia, where deft and blue-coated women operatives are seen silently pushing buttons and twisting wires, a picture of quintessential Soviet efficiency. We meet the field technicians – one is Oleg who works for Ukraine’s telephone monopoly – patiently going about their work in domestic environments where they are often greeted with bewildered and flummoxed customers who enrich the film with their illuminating social commentaries in Kyiv, Ukraine, Buzău County in Romania and the seaside resort of Tsavero in Bulgaria.

Please Hold The Line is not concerned with ‘digital natives’ but the elderly and those dependent on technology to stay in touch with the wider world, but also depressed by the often Kafkaesque nature of red tape involved. While the operatives work away quietly to restore their networks ( customers take centre stage to discuss their wider concerns about easy of connectivity. An Orthodox Russian priest shares his views on Genesis “in the beginning was the word” to enforce his feelings about our online world; housewives discuss their horror at the cheapening of life brought on by the internet, citing local murders of young women and babies. There is even a hiccoughing cat. MT

WORLD PREMIERING AT SHEFFIELD DOC FESTIVAL 2020 

 

Schlingsensief: A Voice that Shook the Silence (2020) *** Sheffield Doc Fest 2020

Dir.: Bettina Böhler; Documentary with Christoph Schlingensief, Tilda Swinton, Udo Kier, Irm Herrmann, Elfriede Jelinek; Germany 2020, 124 min.

Christian Petzold’s longtime editor Bettina Böhler looks at the life of the controversial German filmmaker Christoph Schlingensief (1960-2010). His creative energy was certainly impressive: with twelve features and his his own TV Show, he also directed ‘Parsifal’ at Bayreuth and went on to garner a posthumous Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale 2010 for his German Pavilion – which had as its focus the church he served in as a teenage altar boy.

Böhler kicks off this colourful portrait with a foray into Schlingensief’s graphic design work. A blend of  astronomy, politics and psycho-therapy: it’s a very symbolic opening, trying to explain the Schlingensief’s urge to imbue his persona in everything. Although this is occasional relevant, it often took the focus away from the art itself; Schlingensief was never able to shake off his provocative identity as the’ Bogey-man of the Middle-classes’. His narcissism always taking centre stage, like it did in his TV Show ‘Talk 2000’, where he interrupted his guests to talk about his own personal problems. 

After having been rejected twice by the Munich Film School, Schlingensief, like Fassbinder, chose the auto-didactic way of becoming a filmmaker. His debut “Die Kisten sind da (The Boxes have arrived) in 1984 got positive reviews. Using many of Fassbinder’s cast members, like Irm Herrmann and Udo Kier, Schlingensief’s German Trilogy of The Last Hours in the Führerbunker (1989), The German Chainsaw Massacre (1990) and Terror 2000 (1992), dealt with fascism and re-unification – in a provocative way, it showed West Germans greeting their eastern brothers and sisters with chainsaws. In The 120 Days of Bottrop (1997) he took a pop at Pasolini, with Helmut Berger starring in the ‘remake’ of The 120 Days of Salo.

In 2004 Schlingensief directed Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ in Bayreuth, using experience he had gained from many theatres in the German speaking countries, including the “Schaubühne am Halleschen Tor’ in Berlin. His installations always drew the public’s attention, but he was creative impulse also had ballast: after his death, his widow Aino Laberenz followed up his plans to build an opera house; a theatre; a film school and an infirmary in Ouagodougou, capital of Burkina Faso, with the German government’s help. His “Cancer Diary” was a moving comment on his life, crammed full of achievements, and – again like Fassbinder – suspecting time was running out. Tilda Swinton and Austrian Nobel Price winner Elfriede Jelinek were amongst many mourning his death at the age of only forty-nine.

Böhler just manages to steer clear of a hagiographic approach, this is a comprehensive debut enlivened by some 8 mm films from Schlingensief’s youth – he started filming at the age of seven. She shows a little boy clamouring for attention in a petty-bourgeois Germany, which had not shed its fascist past, and later, was not ready for a re-unification. Schlingensief grew up in an environment where provocation the only route to attention. And he remained a prisoner of his childhood til the end. AS

SHEFFIELD DOC FESTIVAL 2020

Stolen Fish (2020) **** Sheffield Doc Fest 2020

Dir: Gosia Juszczak  | With Abou Saine, Mariama Jatta, Paul John Kamony | Documentary – Wolof/English – 2020 – 31 min
The Chinese are fuelling the migrant crisis in Europe by fishing in Gambian waters according to this illuminating documentary debut from Poland’s Gosia Juszczak.

 

In the smallest country of continental Africa, Gambia, fish are now being caught and processed by Chinese corporations and exported to Europe and China to feed animals in industrial farming. As a result, Gambians are being deprived of their primary source of protein while overfishing is depleting marine ecosystems. The film follows three Gambians who share the sea’s bounty. Or they did up to now. Increasingly they are being forced into poverty due to overzealous fishing from Chinese boats that fail to respect the ecosystem. The Chinese have pumped finance into the country but this allows them to take the lion’s share of the fish for their factories, forcing prices up for the average Gambian because the fishermen who traditionally sold to the markets are now servicing the factories, of which there are now 50 in West Africa. Only when the factory quota is full, can the fisherman sell their catch to the locals who then sell to the markets.

The main habitat for marine fish is naturally the sea. But one young fisherman explains how the fish actually breed in the long inland Gambia River which flows throw this sliver of a country that benefits from a lengthy Atlantic seaboard, rather like Chile. The Chinese have found a way to bring their boats right up to the shallows, formally the exclusive domain of the local fisherman, capturing not only mature bonga, red snapper or catfish, but also the stock in their early stage of life with nets that also do not allow turtles, dolphins and other mammals to escape, a practice that is ecologically unsound for all marine creatures.

With a population of only 2 million Gambia has one of the highest rates of irregular migration towards Europe. But “taking the backway” or migration, is by no means an answer nowadays.  Many Gambians have drowned in the perilous crossing to Europe, or been captured by patrol boats and kidnapped by nefarious gangs or the police, and sent back before they reach the safety of the shores. So they must fight for survival eking out an existence with what’s left in the diminishing fish stocks in this narrative that very much reflects back on the global fishmeal industry and how it impacts on the lives of local people in one of the poorest areas of West Africa.

Gosia Juszczak films with an artist’s eye capturing the lush colours of this beautiful sea-faring country, surrounded by Senegal and often referred to as “The Smiling Coast” with its pleasant climate and contented people. MT

SHEFFIELD DOC FESTIVAL 2020 | IN THE WORLD STRAND

 

 

Influence (2020) *** Sheffield Doc Fest 2020

Dir/Wri: Richard Poplak, Diana Neille. Doc, With: Tim Bell, Ron Leagas, John Hegarty, Phumzile van Damme, Nigel Oakes, Mark Hollingsworth, David Wynne-Morgan, Marianne Thamm, Sergio Bitar, Ascanio Cavallo, Pablo Zalaquett, José Antonio Kast Rist, Ralph Mathekga, FW de Klerk, Stanley Greenberg, Chester Crocker, Ketso Gordhan, Johann Kriegler, Andile Mngxitama, Alex Goldfarb, Paul Bell, Meirion Jones, Haider Jraidan, Joel Harding, Kirsten Fontenrose, Francis Ingham | Doc, 107′

The late advertising and PR supremo Timothy John Leigh Bell is the subject of this brisk and enjoyable documentary that soon sinks under a weight of detail. South African journalists Richard Poplak and Diana Neille use a clever framing device that sees Bell being interviewed for a radio station as the discussion widen out enlivened by archive footage and ample talking heads – but there’s just too much to take in for those unfamiliar with the territory.

If only Sir Tim Bell could have written the script. He comes across an uncomplicated and amusingly laconic character, glancing amiably over horn-rimmed glasses, cigarette permanently on the go, a man who you’d want on your side. And whose biggest coup in the early days of his career at Saatchi & Saatchi was working on the “Labour Isn’t Working” campaign that helped Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher win the 1979  general election. Bell and his associates soon worked out that winning elections and campaigns of all kinds is not down to ‘luck’ but a scientific skillset that interprets how the audience will respond, therefore creating a workable weapon: “It wasn’t about what you said, it was all about the audience”. And this is one of Bell’s most salient legacies.

He co-founded PR company Bell Pottinger in 1988, and was later famous for frosting up the relationship between the West and Putin through a simple but telling hospital bed ‘photo of the poisoned Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko. This establishes the truth that a picture is worth a thousand words. But that’s far from end of the story.

The exposé jumps around quite a bit eventually spinning off in all directions intoxicated by the complexities of the task it takes on. After dealing with Bell’s work on British politics, the thrust moves on to South Africa to explore Bell Pottinger’s role in unethically firing up racial unrest under President Jacob Zuma, influenced by the Gupta family. Bell Pottinger was hired to dispel and change the mood there and cocked it all up. Ironically a grass roots social media campaign in South Africa reacted against the influence of the British PR film. The resulting fallout led to the company filing for bankruptcy and Bell resigned in 2018.

The self-made spin doctor spins his own image with his direct approach to dealings, possessing the confidence and clarity of vision that many of us envy and even admire. He was paid to put a positive facade on the profiles of nefarious characters – amongst them Saudi arms dealers and autocrats such as General Pinochet – but his success in the end contributed to his own downfall. Barristers represent arch criminals everyday and get off Scott free. But when the press and public rise up against you your days are numbered. Ironically Sir Tim was foisted by his own petard – despite being brilliant at the task he took on.

Bell – filmed here before his death in August 2019 – puts up a good argument and a plausible one, and some of his arguments are plausible. But the directors have taken on more than they can chew. In the end their forensic approach encumbers their attempts to make a digest about the fascinating times we live in. We are left with an unpalatable fact: Perception is increasingly more important than the truth. MT

SCREENING AT SHEFFIELD DOC FESTIVAL 2020 | NOW ONLINE.

 

 

 

 

When Lambs become Lions (2018) | ****

Dir: Jon Kasbe | Doc | US

When you fight to survive in the vast arid plains of East Africa life is tough. In his deeply affecting feature debut, award-winning filmmaker Jon Kasbe (Heartbeats Of Fiji) explores whether human life in Northern Kenya is more valuable than that of endangered species. The subject of poaching is certainly an emotive issue that strongly divides the nation’s inhabitants, many of whom are deeply opposed to the illegal practice on moral grounds. But the lucrative trade goes on.

This is the latest in a series of conservation-themed features that started with Blackfish, The Cove and last year’s Trophy. Stunningly captured on the widescreen and in intimate close-up the film contrasts Kenya’s natural beauty with the less palatable aspects of animal slaughter, that takes place not for food but for trophy hunting. And the animals do not die a quick death but a long, drawn out and painful one due to being inexpertly shot or poisoned with venomous arrows. The film’s atmospheric score adds gravitas to the melancholic episodes where Asan silently contemplates his doubtful future. And these sequences contrast with the high-octane nighttime forays into the bush to locate victims and escape the rangers’ onslaught.

Kasbe’s non-judgemental thriller unspools with a growing dramatic tension as it moves stealthily between the lives of two men: an unlikeable ivory trader (X), and his ranger nemesis Asan, who is also his cousin. The glassy-eyed macho X boasts of making a successful black market business selling ivory. As he swaggers around chain-smoking defiantly and invoking ‘Allah’, he claims not to do the killing himself. Hot on his tracks is Asan and his fellow government employed rangers who are heavily armed with rifles and threaten the poachers with their zero tolerance approach. But rangers have little to gain financially from their work, although many feel sadness for the elephants’ plight. Heavily armed with automatic rifles they also have an axe to grind against the government claiming they have not been paid two months’ wages due to an administrative error. Meanwhile, the poachers make a lucrative living. X’s sidekick Lukas posits the powerful adage “if we do not hunt we will be hunted”. The pressure to earn a pittance is also putting a strain on Asan’s marriage and growing family, and he fears he may have to go back to the petty crime of his youth. 

Although poaching is a blot on the landscape, so is the plight of the people who inhabit this impoverished region. President Uhuru Kenyatta confiscates and burns all illegal ivory stashes claiming – on a television programme – that “ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants”. Meanwhile X and Lukas watch silently desperately wishing they could lay their hands on the truckloads of bounty destined to be destroyed by the government’s crackdown. MT

NOW ON GENERAL RELEASE

Mother (2019) **** Sheffield Doc Festival 2019

Dir.: Kristof Bilsen; Doc with Chutimon Sonsirichai (Pomm), Elisabeth Röhmer, Maya Gloor, Walter Gloor; Belgium 2019, 82 min.

People are living longer but not always enjoying a healthy or happy old age in Western Europe. Kristof Bilsen tackles the alarming truths behind our care home crisis in his heart-breaking documentary that sees a Swiss family sending their mother across the world to be looked after by strangers in her final years.  

But before you jump to condemn them, just consider this. Thai women come to the UK in their droves every year to enjoy the benefits of our strong economy that allows them to make a living by offering their unique talents as masseuses and alternative health professionals. Their kids are left with their  extended families and see their mothers only one or twice a year in some cases. Meanwhile UK care homes charge extortionate amounts of money just for bed and board (at BUPA you pay a basic £100,o00 per annum in central London), while bosses cream off the profits and pay their care staff a pittance. These substandard employees are sometimes unable to communicate with residents due to their poor English skills, and often have little aptitude or interest in their badly paid jobs. It’s a critical situation that seems to indicate that this Swiss family could be doing their mother a favour, and even saving money into the bargain.

In Thailand, Pomm looks after Alzheimers patients from German-speaking countries in the Baan Kamlangchay hospice near Chiang-Mai. Her own three children are looked after by her husband and extended family. She too is badly paid but infinitely more compassionate, working an eight hour shift, with another job to make ends meet, her relationship with her husband is strained.

In this tranquil sanctuary, Elisabeth Röhmer is in the last stages of Alzheimers, but Pomm remembers when she loved to do the crossword and helped the carers learn English. After Elisabeth’s death, Pomm will be responsible for Maya, a mother of three from Zofingen in Switzerland. Her husband Walter and three daughters Joyce, Sara and Tanya are struggling to find suitable care for grandma Maya, so the clinic in Thailand seems the best solution. ”It would be selfish to keep her here so we could see her all the time. She gets much better care in Thailand”. And this true because Maya, like Elisabeth before her, will have three carers working round the clock.

Once she arrives with her family in Thailand Maya takes time to settle down in her new environment, awoken by exotic birdsong on her first morning. She is clearly not as happy about the move as the Gloor family would have us believe as they share their last Christmas together far from home. On a boat trip, they discuss how to say goodbye to Maya. Super 8 mm family films show a younger Maya in happier times. Back home in Switzerland, the Gloors Skype Maya who is still at odds with their departure but adapting to her new circumstances.

So is there such a difference between East and West? Clearly in the Far East there is far more respect for adults, their wisdom and experience is highly valued both by the family and in society as a whole. This extends to the process of dying as we saw in Locarno winner MRS FANG. It seems like a double whammy when elderly members of the family lose their dignity and need our care and patience while they remain critical, controlling and difficult, as in the case with dread diseases such as Alzheimers. Their dehumanisation process is disorientating, their loss of dignity strangely infantalises them in the eyes of those who once looked up to them and respected their seniority. We expect to look after our kids, but not our parents. And England has now become a child-centric culture, where children have become objects of desire, admired and put on a pedestal, as we saw recently in the case of Swedish teen, Greta Thunberg.

Bilsen remains objective in his fascinating and thought-provoking film,. Pomm reflecting that her job has shown her the difference between rich and poor. Really? Maya has three care givers because the Swiss family can afford it, yet the carers in both countries are badly paid. The difference is that over here in the UK the care is poor even when you throw money at it; clearly compassion cannot be bought. Pomm wonders (as we all do) what will happen to her if she becomes a victim of Alzheimers. Who will care for her? All over the world we are relying on others to care for our loved ones because we are too busy looking after ourselves.

THE WORLD PREMIER OF MOTHER SCREENS AT SHEFFIELD DOCFEST 9 JUNE 2019 

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