Award-winning Fil-Am documentary filmmaker Ramona Diaz examines life in a congested Manila maternity ward
This weekend, film enthusiasts in Los Angeles have the chance to catch “Motherland,” a new documentary by award-winning documentarian Ramona Diaz, in a limited engagement from Sept. 22-25 at The Laemmle Monica Film Center in Santa Monica, California.
“Motherland” follows the lives of the nurses, doctors and mothers who occupy the Jose Fabella Hospital in Manila, which is home to the busiest maternity ward in the world.
Averaging from 60-100 babies in any given 24-hour period, Fabella Hospital caters mainly to low-income, at-risk mothers and families, many of whom cannot afford basic contraceptive options or prenatal treatment. Due to scarce resources and funding, mothers in the overcrowded ward often have to share single beds with one or two other women while nurses grapple with the chaos of everyday life at Fabella.
Diaz takes viewers on a cinéma vérité-style exploration through the daily struggles of one hospital in Manila. Diaz uses this one example as a vehicle to highlight a larger story of the state of reproductive health and women’s rights in the Philippines. Despite the daily struggles of all the individuals who inhabit Fabella, viewers bear witness to the compassion and vibrancy that surrounds the beginning of life.
“The story that unfolds in “Motherland”, while taking place in the Philippines, is universal,” Diaz wrote in a director’s statement for the film. “The wondrous mystery of motherhood is apparent in every frame of the film, in the sweat and screams of a first-time mother in labor, in the peace of her newborn being placed at her swollen breast, in the awkward laughter as she flounders to diaper her squirming baby. The joy in Fabella is no different from the joys experienced by mothers worldwide. However, because this takes place in the Philippines, this film invites audiences to witness analogous situations from the starkly different perspective of a poor, densely populated, Catholic country.”
“Motherland” won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year and has made rounds at various other film festivals, including Berlinale, Docville, Sheffield Doc Fest, The Sydney International Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival and will premiere in Vienna, Warsaw and Zurich.
“Motherland” opened on Friday, September 22 and continues screenings through the weekend at the Laemmle Monica Film Center. For more information, showtimes and tickets, visit https://www.laemmle.com/films/index/42695?date=2017-09-27.