One of Manila’s public hospitals houses the largest maternity ward in the world. It’s a lifeline for expectant mothers just managing to scrape by on the fringes of society, with as many as 100 babies being born here every day. Motherland follows three protagonists over the course of their stay amidst hundreds of other women.
Following the cinéma vérité tradition, director Ramona S. Diaz eschews interviews of any kind, observing instead what goes on in this place: overfilled hallways and shared beds to deal with the flood of births, information conveyed through loudspeakers, visiting times as a huge logistical challenge. A baby is lost and then reappears, deliveries are captured almost incidentally and in between social workers tout the advantages of family planning. Motherland is more than a portrait of an institution though, delivering equally multi-layered insights into Philippine society, which is marked by a deep-rooted Catholicism, the powerlessness of the poor and an explosion in the birth rate. And yet all these issues are swathed in humour and human warmth. Mothers give birth to life, and life gives birth to stories. One has seldom been so close to both at once.
Ramona S. Diaz
USA / Philippines 2017
Documentary form94 min · Colour
Born in Manila. She earned an MA in Communications. Alongside her work as a director, screenwriter, producer and editor, Ramona S. Diaz conducts production and post-production workshops in the United States and numerous African countries, among others.Filmography
1992 Exits; 10 min. · In Residence; 10 min. 1995 Spirits Rising; 60 min. 2003 Imelda; 103 min. 2010 The Learning; 98 min. 2012 Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey; 105 min. 2017 Motherland (Bayang Ina Mo)
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