All in the Family | Chicago Reader

All in the Family

Many of these films and videos about family life focus on motherhood. In Cliff and Hazel, Ann Fessler returns home for her mother's 80th birthday, documenting her mundane life and sometimes absurd views (she thinks men are smarter than women because there are more men on Jeopardy). Yet the camera work is nonjudgmental, and the video becomes a delicate dance in which the daughter reveals her mother's foibles without severing their connection. In That 5-Star Feeling the mother of video maker Jan Baross lives only in five-star hotels and admits to being “superior” to others—and “modest, too.” LeAnn Erickson recalls her late mother in Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Frames, using fragmentary images such as a shadow on a wall to evoke the fragility of memory, though her video ultimately succumbs to sentimentality. Elizabeth Downer's Home avoids this trap, portraying the forced adoptions of Native American children in close, abstracted, often poetic images—a ball bounced against the side of a car, a teepee of logs against the sky—that give the film a grave beauty.


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