Telluride Mountainfilm: Super Duper Mom Documentary

[click "Play" to hear Susan's conversation with Sarah Klein]

GoodMotherCardscreen Forget to make a brunch reservation on this special day and you wind up in the Seventh Circle of Hell. In Telluride, as in the best of all possible worlds, Mother's Day would be everyday. The Hallmark Card model of the holiday is a set-up, a guilt trip, that should, I believe, go the way of the Hummer.

Truth be told no matter how many saccharine cards, roses, truffles, heart necklaces, or brunches we buy, we can never ever pay off that eternal debt we owe the woman who packs our lunches, bandages our boo-boos, soothes our bruised egos, cuddles and encourages us through thick and thin, believes in us no matter what. The best of the breed inspires success without ever pushing an agenda. They teach, but don't preach, the requirement for a straight spine and strong moral fiber. They are smart, loving, resourceful, and charming. And, they do this with no guarantee of a quid pro quo.

IMG_4590 Director/producer Sarah Klein of Redglass Pictures made a film celebrating these super heroes in aprons, the kind of woman who receded into the rear view mirror of life about 40 years ago with the rise of feminism and the bogus idea of "Having It All."

"Mother of the Year," or "Super Mom" (the film's surrogate title in Europe) tells the story of four of the 16 young mothers from all over the country, who travel to America's Heartland to compete for the title of "Mother of the Year,"  and become the reigning representative of moms all over the country.  Sarah deftly mixed verite footage of the contest with archived photographs and in-depth interviews to paint a portrait of the undervalued, over-stressed culture of motherhood in America today, a phenomenon the competition perfectly reflects.

"When I first heard that America actually holds a 'Mother of the Year' competition, my interest was immediately piqued. I had so many questions: Who judges these contestants? By what criteria? What sort of woman would put herself in the running? Were they all Supermoms raising their kids perfectly? Who among them would go on to get the award and how would that affect the other mothers? And finally, what would the choice of the winner have to say about American attitudes towards mothers and motherhood in general?

In doing her homework, Sarah found that across the board, the women nominated for the award felt undervalued for the work they do as mothers. Each hoped the process they entered into — and the award itself — would help answer one simple but abiding question: Who cares?

"For some, the experience proves rewarding, but for others, the process of measuring up to the women around them and trying to perform for the judges ends up taking its toll. This, to me, is where the film gets interesting.  This small competition and these few women reflect the experiences of millions of American mothers who are trying to do well for their children, but constantly feel the pressure to measure up to a unobtainable ideal of perfection. "

Sarah credits her team –  producer, Anne Labro; editor, David Klagsbrun; cinematographers Tom Mason and Nelson Hume; narrator, Susan Saint James; and composer, MIchael Hearst –  for the success of her film at a recent screenings in Switzerland at the Festival Visions Du Reel and in Paris.
"Mother of the Year"/"Super Mom" will be screened Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, in France and Germany on Arte at 10:45 a.m., YLE Finland, SVT Sweden and VPRO Netherland (check out relevant listings for times.)

The film has its North American premiere at Mountainfilm. To watch a trailer for "Mother of the Year" see the Redglass website, and click on "Projects."

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