Lidiya Sheynina points her calm and distant camera at her mother’s body and face, often angled from below. Over the years, the mother has evolved the physiognomy of a turtle plodding along comfortably. Life is hard, the flat is cramped, but she makes the best of it – on and on. She has taken care of her aged mother for decades, the grey-haired, graceful Grande dame of this student film treasure, who sometimes exercises (jumping jack in a wheelchair), sometimes calls old friends (if they haven’t died yet), sometimes does the dishes (even the Teflon frying pans she’s not supposed to) but usually only sits and eats, or drinks from a beautiful old cup that has “babushka” written on it. The grandmother, who has forgotten how old she is (“What? 96? Impossible.”), that she has had no husband for the past 17 years (“Really?”) and hasn’t left the flat in 20 years (“That’s precisely why I’d like to go out again.”), has turned into a child, the daughter into a mama. The radio talks of the wonderful independence of old age; life is different. Together every day and every night. And yet Mama happily sways back and forth to the morning music and looks out of the window with her mother. Waiting for spring. Such tender metaphors turn “Mama”, a film of small gestures, into great cinema. Barbara Wurm
Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.