Director: Jyll Johnstone
Martha And Ethel is a unique and indelible portrait of two lifelong nannies, strong-willed women who subjugated their own lives to raise someone else's family (as ninety year-old Ethel states, "You don't have to birth a child to love it"). What makes this extremely personal documentary particularly insightful is the fact that it has been made by two filmmakers who as children were raised by Martha Kneifel and Ethel Edwards.
The nannies, both refugees in a sense - one from pre-war Germany and the other, a black woman from the rural South - came to stay with their surrogate families for over thirty years. The story resonates with the interior journey of the children as much as the exterior odyssey of the nannies as many unanticipated issues come up about the family dynamic, about the genteel world of the upper class, about discipline, nurturing and responsibility, about the changing role of women and motherhood between the 1950s and today, and about the fascinating relationship among mothers, children and nannies. Relationships emerge as closer to friendships, in one case even outlasting a marriage. The children however, now adults, are still the emotional refugees of a childhood built on feelings of confusion, divided loyalties and questionable self-esteem.
Martha And Ethel provides a rare glimpse into a series of complex relationships, but underneath, it demonstrates why the women's movement was inevitable and is still evolving. A courageous self-examination, accumulation of emotions and memories, this bittersweet film asks us to think again who is raising our children?
- Lawrence Smilth, Sundance Film Festival
On December 1,1942, a US airforce bomber crashed in the south-east corner of the Gulf of Carpenteria after a bombing raid over New Guinea. Four of the crew survived and, thinking they were near Cairn… More »
There's no stopping contemporary renaissance man David Byrne. The painter turned art-rocker who became a pop star has more recently turned his interests to photography, musical anthropology and filmm… More »
Challenging British director Derek Jarman's final major work has been compared in visual execution to Warhol's Sleep and Empire State. Where it outstrips them both is in the meticulously crafted and … More »
The boatman is Gopal. He rows the waters of the Ganges, the Sacred River of India, guiding his vessel through Benares, the city of Shiva, the city of the Dead. Creating the illusion of a moving point… More »
Gangsta chic, violence and nihilism, the hard edge of Rap and Ragga increasingly dominates the image of black popular culture. Director Isaac Julian (Looking For Langston, Young Soul Rebels) and the … More »