In one respect, In Our Mothers’ Gardens is not meant for me, or for any white women. It is a fearless, confessionalist record, from inside personal histories, of Black mothers and grandmothers, and it is steeped in Black love and culture. As such, the film is amplifying women in a way that isn’t about me or any privileged white folk. In another, it absolutely is for people of all colors and backgrounds, in that it can open the eyes of people who have no true understanding of the strength of family and matriarchy in Black communities. This celebration reflects, through a wide diversity of real stories by Black women, the power, importance, influence, and, above all, the perspective, of Black matriarchy.
The third title released in 2021 by Array, the multi-platform arts and social impact collective dedicated to narrative change, In Our Mothers’ Gardens arrives right around Mother’s Day. It is perfectly timed, as many are all still reeling from a worldwide pandemic, and few are risking travel to see family yet.
There’s such love in the words people like #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and NPR Senior Programming Director Yolanda Sangweni share. The group of women presented by director Shantrelle P. Lewis in In Our Mothers’ Gardens have wildly divergent experiences, but love is the common denominator.
As with all things involving Ava DuVernay, Array walks the walk of distributing films that reveal an aspect of society too often sidelined. In this case, Array brings a title that opens a door into the complex relationships between Black mothers and daughters.
The storytelling structure includes segues, one style of which has photographs of the women being discussed are being photoshopped into layers that are built with images representative of their full lives. It is an interesting and creative metaphor for how those being interviewed are slowly revealing the full picture of their extraordinary ancestors both immediate and distant. There’s another sequence has a very funny take of Black Barbie.
For the entire review, go to AWFJ.org HERE.