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MOTHERS OF LIFE

Finland, 2002 (MIFF 2002, Northern Lights)

Director: Anastasia Lapsui, Markku Lehmuskallio

Mothers of Life serves as a companion piece to Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lahmuskallio's previous film, Seven Songs from the Tundra (MIFF 2000). Once again the filmmakers journeyed to the remote Yamal Peninsula in eastern Siberia to record the lives of the Nenet people. Combining documentary and fiction, the film charts generations of the nomadic Yaptik family and their struggle in this unforgiving and inhospitable region. Working in similar cinematic terrain as Atanarjuat The Fast Runner (MIFF 2001), Mothers of Life traces the impact of an ancient murder and its impact on an entire clan.

The film's pivotal characters are a mother and daughter, two strong women who wander with their family from camp to camp, searching for their rightful place. They have fallen on hard times. All but one of the family's male members have died - hunger, illness and death linger close at hand. For the two women it is loss of identity - they are eventually forced to take work on state-owned farms - that becomes their biggest danger. A life of servitude threatens to crush what remains of their spirit but fierce pride may still save them.

Anastasia Lapsui (born in Yamal, Russia, 1944) worked as a journalist, writing her first script in 1990. In 1993 she teamed up with Markku Lehmuskallio (born in Finland, 1938), a forester who turned to filmmaking in the 70s. They have made many films, including Paradise Lost (1994) and Seven Songs from the Tundra (MIFF 2000).

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