DER Documentary

In My Mother's House

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by Lina Fruzzetti and Ákos Östör
color, 82 min, 2016
in Italian, Arabic, Tigrinya, and English
with English subtitles

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One day in 2005, Lina Fruzzetti receives a startling email that reads, "If this is your father, we are cousins." There follows a decade-long quest to learn more about her Italian father who died young in Italian ruled Eritrea and her Eritrean mother who does not dwell on the past. Above all, Fruzzetti strives to understand her far-flung African, European, and American family against the backdrop of colonial rule, worlds at war, migration, grief, diasporas, and the global world in which we all live.

In My Mother's House presents the longue durée of Euro-Atlantic, and African societies and histories, from unique points of view, indirectly, in the light of particular events and encounters of a large diasporic American-Eritrean-Italian family. These encounters are intimate and direct so that the viewer feels intrigued while being challenged to learn more. The attention is to individuals and conversations in actual, spontaneous, unrehearsed settings.

The story unfolds chronologically, in real-time, making the viewer privy to the filmmakers' knowledge. Building on each previous scene unexpected new development occurs in every subsequent segment. From Providence, USA to Carrara (Italy) and Asmara (Eritrea) the scenario turns from conversations in cramped living rooms and events surrounding everyday life in villages and towns, family memories to details of history and politics.

The dramatic ending completes the story but does not resolve the initial puzzle. The film shifts attention from mother to father, to daughter, and in the end to the daughter's quest to find the hidden histories of her large, scattered family with an eye to understanding the meaning of events and the pattern of individual lives. Lina is both protagonist and observer, and through her efforts, we succeed in seeing individual fates play out against a broad canvas of different societies and histories. A spare and often poetic narration does not merely clarify but complements the visual detail and synchronous sound, highlighting the protagonists' experience.



Special Preview Screenings
Brown University, 2015
Wesleyan University, 2015
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 2016
Ambedkar University, Delhi, 2016
St Anthony's College, Oxford, 2016
SOAS, University of London, 2016
University of Cardiff, 2016
ISCTE, University of Lisbon, 2016

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My Family and Me
Pepe's Family
Asmara, Eritrea



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