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1 Sep , 2012   Posted by:


Twelve women explore how their bodies have been transformed by giving birth. We see body images and hear their voices. They talk to us from their bodies. We hear and see their ambivalence, humor and love. The film began when I learned that one of the fastest growing plastic surgeries was the post-birth tummy tuck. I thought about what it meant that we want to erase the signs that we have delivered children. I was driven to create a film that reframes and destabilizes our reactions to a woman’s body after she has given birth. The film builds on the tradition of body artists like Carolee Schneeman and Ana Mendieta, who used the transgressive presentation of violence and eroticism to shock and challenge. In “BirthMarkings” we chose to explore what one of the women in the film called the “public reaction of disgust and horror” to images of her post birth belly. In a nip-tuck driven culture that is inured to violence and erotica; a culture in which babies are often seen as the latest accessory, what is transgressive is the image of a woman’s abdomen that is not taut, and unmarked by birth. “Birthmarkings” challenges the static, commodified images that are everywhere in our public culture and define what is beautiful and visually acceptable. We refocus on the beauty, dynamism and lived experiences of the marks of birth. We become engaged in the tension between the dynamic and the static and the natural world and the commodity.

Film Details

Director: Margaret Lazarus

Writer: Margaret Lazarus

Year of Release: 2011

Running Time: 19

New England Connection: Margaret Lazarus and Renner Wunderlich founded Cambridge Documentary Films in 1974 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They went to school in the Boston area and have been making films there since then. Their film, Defending Our Lives, winner of first prize at the New England Film Festival in 1994, won an Academy Award. Renner was a producer and editor of BirthMarkings. Sarah Ledoux was born in Rhode Island, went to college in Boston and currently works in Cambridge. She was the camerawoman and one of the editors of BirthMarkings. Tricia O'Neill, still photographer and associate producer, grew up, went to college and currently works in the Boston area. Cambridge Documentary Films currently receives a annual grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Director(s) Bio:: Margaret Lazarus is an Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker. Her numerous films have been screened all over the world, at the United Nations, in the US Senate, Dept. of State and Office of the Vice President and have won many other awards. She is also an author and has lectured at conferences and universities throughout the United States.

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