Seven months after helping her terminally ill mother die in home-hospice, filmmaker Judith Helfand becomes a "new old" single mother when she adopts a baby at 50. In addition to the strain of adapting to life with a child, her mother's death pushes her to deal with her mom's stuff -- 63 boxes of her parents' heirlooms overwhelming her office-turned-future-baby's room, the weight her mother had begged her to lose, and the reality of being a half-century older than her daughter.
Helfand writes, "My parenting trajectory includes everything from the struggle to deal with all that additional baby stuff, to the hell of strapping baby Theo into a stroller while she's wearing a snowsuit and I'm overweight and sweating in my winter coat, to the shame of not really being able to get down on the floor with the other parents and kids, to navigating the terrible twos while healing from gastric sleeve surgery, to facing the psyche-crushing threes to the thrill of losing 85 lbs and actually being able to sit at Theo's little table in a little chair -- and get up."
Love and Stuff follows a set of universal, life-changing moments -- death, birth, new life, the burden and blessing of your dead parent's stuff, the insanity and exhilaration of being a new old single parent in your 50s and the possibility of transformation.
Face2Face host David Peck talks to Judith Helfand about the film, mothers, grief, defiance and resilience, living well and why we all need to do a stuff review.
Watch the 10-minute version on the New York Times page here.
And learn more about Judith and her work here.
About the director:
Judith Helfand is best known for her ability to take the dark worlds of chemical exposure, heedless corporate behaviour and environmental injustice and make them personal, highly charged and entertaining. Three of her films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with national broadcasts on PBS (POV), HBO and The Sundance Channel. Her films include The Uprising of '34, the Sundance award winning and 2X Emmy nominated Blue Vinyl, its Peabody Award-winning prequel A Healthy Baby Girl, and Everything's Cool.
A committed field-builder and educator, Helfand co-founded Working Films in 1999, and Chicken & Egg Pictures in 2005. As part of her work at Chicken & Egg Pictures, where Helfand was creative director for almost a decade, she was a producer on the Oscar-nominated, Dupont-winning short, The Barber of Birmingham, and executive producer for the award-winning films Brooklyn Castle, Semper Fi: Always Faithful, Private Violence and Hot Girls Wanted.
In 2007 Judith received a United States Artist Fellowship, one of 50 awarded annually to America's finest living artists. In 2016 she was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She is currently in post-production on Cooked, a feature documentary about extreme heat, the politics of disaster and survival by zip code.
Image: Judith Helfand. Used with permission. F2F Music: David Peck and Face2Face.
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