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MOTHERLAND

Australia, 1994 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)

Director: Kriv Stenders

Motherland is the story of two Latvian grandmothers who have lived in Australia (since the end of WWII), and although never knowing each other in their native Latvia, have become close friends since arriving in Australia. Not only did their similar experiences in their motherland draw them together, but these two elderly women have one other thing in common - they are the filmmaker's two grandmothers.

Shot in black and white, in both Australia and Latvia, the film explores the women's lives, past and present. The film is roughly divided into two parts. In the first half, the women reflect on their lives in Australia, their families, their beliefs, and their memories of life and people in Latvia.

The second part of the film explores how the culture of a people can survive in the imagination of three generations of exiles, fourteen thousand miles from its country of origin. It is this imagined country which becomes the focus for the filmmaker as he sets off with camera to investigate the memories and images of the motherland described by his two grandmothers. Finally, the film deals with his Latvian relatives who have endured almost 40 years of Soviet occupation, their personalities and their culture.

Motherland demonstrates that the documentary form can be innovative, while at the same time telling a universal story through personal experience.

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