Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival

Programme (2020)

Mother (2020)

A documentary about the pain of mothers losing a connection with their children might not sound like one of the most uplifting films of the year, but Kristof Bilsen’s film is a radical achievement: a love letter to loss, sacrifice and yearning. It questions how we care for elderly loved ones, makes provocative contrasts between east and west in the economics of medicine, and, with a central character who’s pure charisma, this is intimate observational documentary-making of a high standard.

Pomm is a carer in Thailand for westerners with Alzheimer’s. She gives her patient one-to-one care, which comprises singing, joking, hugging and confiding, as well as the basics of cleaning and welfare. This is more personal attention than would be possible in her patients’ home countries, and though it doesn’t come cheap, families feel it’s worth the expense of sending someone halfway across the world for it.

Mother explores pain and dignity, and the way that some people’s pain is considered more important than others. Pomm has lower status, only begrudgingly granted time off by her boss to see her family. No one asks her about her wellbeing, no one dotes over her. Yet she is the hero of this piece, giving everything for strangers, night and day, in an exhausting service so her own family can be cared for.

This is an original piece of work, addressing the selflessness of mothers and the impact of dementia on families. These subjects have been the focus of documentaries before but rarely in this combination and with such an unflinching resolve to keep filming in uncomfortable moments.

Charlie Phillips, The Guardian

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Film Title : Mother
Language : thai, englanti, saksa
Director : Kristof Bilsen
Year : 2019
Length : 82
Age limit : K7
Format : DCP
Cinematographer : Kristof Bilsen, Marko Milovanovic, Chutimon Sonsirichai
Editing : Maarten Janssens
Music : Kyle Bobby Dunn
Producer : Kristof Bilsen
Production Company : Limerick Films

Screenings :
Tue 28.1. at 19.00, Kino Regina, followed by a Q&A with director Kristof Bilsen
Wed 29.1. at 16.45, Bio Rex, followed by a Q&A with director Kristof Bilsen
Sun 2.2. at 18.15, Bio Rex