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Australia, 1990 (MIFF 1991, Documentaries)

Director: Dirk de Bruyn

Conversations with My Mother is an intensely moving, even disturbing encounter between the filmmaker and his mother, as they relive the traumatic years of Dirk's childhood. The family emigrated to Australia from Holland and, in the years from 1958 through the 60's, had to grapple with problems of housing, the father's mental illness and subsequent death, and various social injustices. It documents the personal and financial struggle of Dirk and his mother, Hilda, in hiding from a husband/father in the days before single parent's benefits.

The painful memories are revived as the two revisit the many houses they occupied during the years after they came to Victoria. They attempt to understand the events that made life so difficult during this period and to resolve the tensions that have persisted between them.

The past informs the present, as the audience gains insights into their relationship. Yet these conversations are taking place now and we get a real sense of two people dealing with what is important to them in their relationship and who they are now.

"I hope the film is about using film for personal truth. I would like film to be used more for a personal liberation rather than telling us all what is right and wrong.

For me the film is about memory and how it directs your life, how it can affect your inner life now, who you are now. I also discovered that feelings discarded long ago seem to be somehow lodged in the sites where they unfolded. Is this where/how the mythologies of "ghosts" develop in our culture.

As a male in a culture increasingly more influenced by feminist initiatives, it is important to explore your feelings in an uncompromising way. I do not think it is a coincidence that some of most interesting discussions about the work have been with women. Even though I was directing and producing the film, ostensibly in control of events, I became really immersed in what unfolded. It gained its own momentum. Yet I also became aware that all film is fiction, no matter how fine the tuning, encapsulation, editing, short-cuts you take. The sentiment had to be uncompromisingly true to what developed." Dirk De Bruyn

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