Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hearts universally divided around the world

You may remember that a while back I wrote a post about a new documentary Lost in Living, being made by filmmaker Mary Trunk about "the messy intersection of motherhood and artistic expression".

It never ceases to amaze me how universal the feelings are when it comes to the dilemmas women feel about combining their own creative needs and the needs of their children.

Like my approach with The Divided Heart, Mary took her own fears and confusion and sought out other women who might be feeling the same way. If you watch the trailer on her website (or below), you can already see what a powerful and touching film it's going to be.

In a lovely post Mary has just written about my book, she writes that because "Rachel was willing to be open herself, the women she interviewed opened up as well." Though we don't see Mary on camera, it's clear that the very same is true of her. Her subjects really let her in and, as a result, the footage is heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure.

Mary now has a rough cut of her film ready and she has launched a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the funds she needs to complete and promote her film. She needs backers, and every dollar counts. But all forms of support are welcome, whether it be a blog post or just a "like" on the film's facebook page.

And while I'm promoting amazing women, the link between Mary and I was British-born New Zealand photographer Parisa Taghizadeh, who contacted me after she read The Divided Heart. One of her recent projects is a series of portraits of women without their children, simply titled MOTHER.

Each image is a celebration of the individuality that, as she puts it, "gets pushed to the side and ignored after we take on our new role as mothers". It is astounding how potent and layered a seemingly straightforward portrait shot can be when you've added the label "mother", which has such strong cultural and personal connotations.

As I've just told Parisa, I've always been quietly fascinated with the question of whether you can tell if a woman has children just by looking at her. I can sometimes be a bit conceited in my belief that I can tell -- but have regularly been proven wrong!

Looking at her portraits, I was also reminded of how in those early days of parenting I so often longed to be alone, and then when I (rarely) was, I immediately wanted to let everyone I passed know that I was a mother. It had become such a strong point of pride and identity -- one I was more attached to that than I had realised.