'MOTHER reveals the devastatingly trickster ways dementia transforms a person and emotionally impacts those who care for such people.
A film full of unforgettable portraits of people navigating the most profound challenges. A haunting and gorgeous meditation.'
(Kirsten Johnson - executive producer)
In a small village in Thailand, Pomm takes care of Europeans with Alzheimer’s. Separated from her children, she helps Elisabeth during the final stages of her life, as a new patient arrives from Switzerland.
Pomm has sacrificed being close to her children in order to earn a better living, meanwhile in Switzerland a family prepares to say goodbye to their mother; a woman who has developed Alzheimer’s in her 50s.
Mother is an intimate and moving observation, that allows us to explore the struggles and expectations of motherhood and the frustrations of being unable to care for our loved ones.
As two narratives collide in this extraordinary coincidence, the powerful connection between patients and caregivers challenge our preconceptions. Both Pomm and her patients are trying to recover the pieces of their lives that are gone, but through love and kindness they will learn to care for each other.
'A heartbreaking inquiry into the cost of dementia. Kristof Bilsen's stunning doc assesses the disease’s toll on patients and carers trapped in the international care-market.'
★★★★★ Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian
★★★★ Raphael Abraham – Financial Times
'Poignant and eye-opening.’
★★★★ Edward Porter – The Sunday Times
(...) A radical achievement: a love letter to loss, sacrifice and yearning. It questions how we care for elderly loved ones, makes provocative contrasts between east and west in the economics of medicine, and, with a central character who’s pure charisma, this is intimate observational documentary-making of a high standard.
★★★★★ Charlie Phillips -The Guardian
(...) tackles the alarming truths behind our care home crisis in his heart-breaking documentary that sees a Swiss family sending their mother across the world to be looked after by strangers in her final years.
★★★★ Meredith Taylor - Filmuforia
'A remarkable film. The film explores what real caregiving is about - authentic presence, caring relationships, and the caretaking of memories. Just a wonderful film for all of us concerned with the enormous issues of global aging.' (Arthur Kleinman - Harvard University, and the author of The Soul of Care)
MOTHER forces the viewer to question what bliss looks like to us; a luxury getaway is the typical image of Thailand, but, in this humble care centre where cultures collide, the sanguine relationships between those present, both in body and in spirit, is infinitely moving.
Rhiannon Topham - Reel Steel
Kristof Bilsen continues to establish himself as a gifted documentary voice with MOTHER, a beautiful and sensitive character study of a Thai Alzheimer’s carer. (...) His longest and most fully formed feature to date offers a more global perspective on the neurodegenerative illness than other docs and fiction features made on the subject thus far.
MOTHER provides a powerful insight into the ethical and moral considerations around ‘outsourcing’ care.
A tribute to kindness and solidarity, and also a painful register of the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s on the patients and their families.
A production by Limerick Films (BE)
in co-production with HALAL docs (NL) and Man's Films Productions (BE)
Director & Producer: Kristof Bilsen
Written & developed by: Kristof Bilsen & Xan Márquez Caneda
Camera: Kristof Bilsen, Marko Milovanovic, Chutimon Sonsirichai
Sound recordist: Xan Márquez Caneda
Editor: Maarten Janssens
Sound designer & Mixer: Hugo Dijkstal
Music by: Kyle Bobby Dunn
Colorist: Olivier Ogneux
Post-production: CAVIAR Post (Steffen Geypens, Xavier Arijs)
Graphic design & Poster design: Sander Brouwer
Executive producer: Kirsten Johnson
Co-producers: Marion Hänsel, Olivia Sophie van Leeuwen
Associate producer: Steven Dhoedt
Research support by Pascal Decroos Fund and by SACD/Scam
Script and development support by Flanders Audiovisual Fund
and the Creative Europe Programme - MEDIA of the European Union
Production support by Flanders Audiovisual Fund, Netherlands Film Fund and Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel Wallonie Bruxelles
Co-produced by VRT-Canvas, RTBF - Unité de Programmes Documentaires and EOdocs. In association with RTS Switzerland
With support of the Tax Shelter initiative of the Belgian Government
Developed during EURODOC 2017
International sales: Deckert Distribution
UK Distribution: Verve Pictures
Benelux: Limerick Films
Duration: 82' / 52' - 2K DCP Dolby SR
' Elephant’s Dream masterfully creates a dreamlike listlessness, sad and funny, that gently hints at great historical tragedy. A beautiful film.'
'One of the most tender and intense films I’ve seen in ages – the agony and the scars of colonialism are most artfully captured in a true film d’ auteur.'
Elephant’s Dream takes us beyond the usual reports of the Congo, to provide poetic and compassionate insight into a country in transition, as seen through the microcosm of three state-owned institutions and its public sector workers in the third largest city in Africa, Kinshasa, a railway station, the central post office and the only existing fire station.
At times surreal, at times hopeful, this film will reveal a truly surprising perspective on lives lived beyond chaos.
Now available on Itunes in the US/UK/Canada, via DAFilms as well as US Educational & Home-use DVD + institutional streaming available through DER.
Out on region-free DVD (NL/FR/ENG subtitles & packaging): Buy here
You can now watch it on Vimeo On Demand (english subtitles)
Vous pouvez le voir sur Vimeo On Demand (soutitres en français)
Te bekijken via Vimeo on Demand (Nederlandse ondertitels)
'In the pantheon of documentaries about the Congo, “Elephant’s Dream” is an incredibly necessary addition.'
'Three ordinary stories combined in a extraordinary documentary.'
Directed by Kristof Bilsen
Duration: 72′/52′ - DCP
Supported by Cinereach (NY) and CBA/Worldview , EU MEDIA,Pascal Decroos Fund (Belgium) and Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF)
A co-production with Man’s Films (Marion Hänsel), Roast Beef productions and RTBF (BE) and Associate Directors.
THREE WOMEN (Drie Vrouwen)
(2005) - reissue 2020
watch it on Vimeo on Demand
films' profile page
"When I see myself in the mirror, I don't think I look like my judicial."
This is a portrait of three women in custody at the Ghent prison. We get to know them not through their crimes but as three people who feel, see and think.
This film explores the ambiguity and intimacy and distance towards three women who have to continue their life behind bars.
You can now watch it on Vimeo On Demand (english subtitles)
'It is through small but eloquent details that director Kristof Bilsen manages to sketch a moving portrait of three detainees in the women's prison in Ghent.'
DE MORGEN (Jan Temmerman)
'Bilsen did wonders with the few means at his disposal to keep the documentary visually attractive and keep up the pace.'
Director/DOP/Editor: Kristof Bilsen
Interviews/Co-director: Daniel Billiet
MUSIC: Michael De Rop
SOUND MIX: Yves De Mey
GRADING: Olivier Ogneux
ORIGINALLY COMPLETED: 2005
The film was supported through a workshop grant from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund.