Look At Us Now, Mother!

Directed By: Gayle Kirschenbaum (First Feature Film) / 84 Minutes
USA / 2016 / English
Documentary / Biography; Other
Exhibition Format: DCP

Original Title: English


What happens to a girl when she is born into a family that was expecting a boy? What drives a child to convince herself she is adopted?

With raw honesty and biting humor comes Gayle Kirschenbaum’s personal story of pain, survival and being born into the wrong family. What began with My Nose, a humorous short about a mother obsessed with fixing her daughter’s “schnozola”, turned into a series of workshops about transforming difficult relationships. Now Gayle brings her insights to a film that took ten years to shoot about a relationship that took a lifetime to mend.

As the film opens, Gayle is a single, middle-aged filmmaker, an artist and a communicator. Her mother is a sprightly elderly widow, more interested in enjoying retirement than reflecting on the past. Yet when still-sensitive Gayle demands that they heal their relationship, Mildred consents, and what follows is an epic and often times painful exploration of family and how we get over our past.

With equal parts humor and pathos, Gayle invites the viewer on an odyssey of discovery with no bump in the road edited out. She and her mother uncover family secrets and recover from unexpected losses that shift the dynamics of their complex relationship. Using 8mm home movies, vintage photographs, and even Gayle’s childhood drawings and diaries, the family history is thrown into sharp relief.

The specter of loss haunts the film almost as strongly as the pain of criticism; Gayle knows her mother won’t be around forever. Can she forgive—even love—her mother before it’s too late?