On Motherís Day 2009, the Film Love series presents a selection of works about
motherhood and the way it is filmed, from America to Bali, by artists,
anthropologists, and documentarians.
The evening centers on
Richard Leacockís 1963 classic A Happy Motherís Day,
about the birth of the Fischer quintuplets in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The film
is both a witty portrayal of the civic frenzy surrounding the event and a
portrait of mother Mary Ann Fischer, whose resistance to exploitation and sly,
in-on-the-joke persona give the film its moral and emotional center. The film
was rejected by its sponsor, and re-edited by ABC television into a more
traditional representation of small-town America. The two versions present a
veritable case study in how the same imagery can be used to create two different
versions of an event, and two different visions of motherhood in America.
We will screen both Leacockís film and ABCís re-edited version.
Accompanying is David Ellsworthís short video Super-8 Mom, in which the
artist overlays his motherís home movie footage from the early 1970s with her
In stark contrast to American imagery of birth and motherhood are the
films of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead.
The powerful and surprising First Days in the Life of a New Guinea Baby
documents the eventful first hour after birth of an infant in the Iatmul tribe.
The delightful Bathing Babies in Three Cultures shows the fascinating
differences in this daily ritual between the United States, New Guinea, and
PROGRAM: A Happy Motherís Day
(Richard Leacock with Joyce Chopra, 1963), 26 minutes The Fischer Quintuplets
(ABC-TV, 1963), 30 minutes Super-8 Mom
(David Ellsworth, 2002), 5 minutes Bathing Babies in Three Cultures
(Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, 1930s/1954), 14 minutes First Days in the Life of a New Guinea Baby
(Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, 1930s/1952), 14 minutes all works screened on video
Iatmul woman holding a baby on her arm, 1938