A certain mother

On International Women’s Day, the Darling team attended a special premiere screening of A Certain Mother, created and directed by Rozelle based filmmaker Mihaal Danziger. The documentary interweaves the stories of four women across Australia as they navigate the challenges of motherhood. All proceeds of the event went to local charity Good in the Hood.

A Certain Mother follows the lives of four Australian mothers and takes a deeply personal look at the experience of being a mother from the first moments of being pregnant through to the challenges of raising teenagers. The four mothers, Leticia, Barb, Louise, and Megan offer a captivating insight into their lives, the challenges they face and the fear that comes with societal pressures associated with motherhood. As the stories unfold, issues such as mental illness, body image, disability, prejudice and vulnerability are explored and leaves the audience emotionally connected to every character. Darling had the pleasure of speaking to Mihaal, and asking her a few questions about the film.

What inspired you to make this film?

I started developing the idea for this film when my third child was turning one, and my eldest was well into primary school. I felt at that point a dramatic shift from being a ’young mum’ with babies, those blurry years when you’re mostly just trying to keep them alive, to suddenly becoming this mum-of-three, raising actual little people whose needs become more complex by the day. I felt like everything my kids bring home - their struggles, their issues, their weaknesses - is a reflection of my own unresolved issues. I wanted to make a film about this. I wanted to find women whose own stories could offer clarity to mine. The work of raising children is huge and we mostly take it for granted, and we always add the word ’just’ when referring to it. This film is an invitation to pause and really consider this, with gratitude and respect.

How did you find the mothers to feature in the film?

I knew that almost any mother, if I sat down with her for a few hours would have an interesting story to tell, and that their journey into motherhood would offer interesting insights. But I did spend a very long time researching to find these specific four mothers. I wanted women whose motherhood experiences highlight a specific issue. I wanted to talk of issues that I felt were relevant to most of us, in one way or another, and I also wanted women who are not shying away from their challenges - women who have taken time to really consider the issues they’ve been dealt with.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while making this film?

Oh, so many, where to begin? It has been a tremendous journey and a trying one. There were a lot of rejections along the way, a lot of unsuccessful applications for funding or support, a lot of doubts, and many moments in which I was either not sure I would ever manage to complete the film, or worse, not sure if anyone would ever get to watch it!! On the other hand, there were many generous people along the way, who gave their time and counsel, and really helped push me past those breaking points.

Louise Adams, Mihaal Danziger, Kobi ShettyHow long did it take to make the film?

I started making this film almost 5 years ago! The stories were filmed separately and edited one at a time. In between, there was a lot of research, and a lot of work around trying to get support. I was working on mum-time so the film had to be made very slowly, with limited time, limited resources, and minimal travel.

Can you tell us about a particularly memorable moment during the production of this film?

There were lots of little problems along the way that comes to mind. It started raining on us when we were in the middle of the forest walk with Leticia and Wade, and we had
nothing to protect the camera with. We lost a drone when we were getting aerial shots of Megan’s rural property, and the birds in Leticia’s garden really were loud. There was also lockdown, with three kids at home being home schooled, and me trying to edit the film to a constant soundtrack of “mum”.

What’s one thing you would like the audience to take away from this film?

For anyone who’s a parent, it’s a chance to pause for a moment and consider this humble, yet colossal, work of raising children. For anyone who has ever confronted issues relating to mental health, or to their identity, body image or being different - it’s a chance to untangle and reconsider some of our beliefs and attitudes. And, I hope parents will watch it and feel a little bit less alone.

For more information, visit a-certain-mother.yolasite.com

Pictured: Louise Adams, Mihaal Danziger, Kobi Shetty

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