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The Ties That Bind

1984

Cinematography, editing and sound editing by
Su Friedrich

Funded in part by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts

16mm, b&w
55 minutes

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The Ties That Bind is an experimental documentary about the filmmaker's mother, who was born and lived in southern Germany from 1920-1950. Through a mixture of personal anecdote and social history, she describes the rise of Nazism, the war years, and the Allied occupation, during which she met her future husband, an American soldier.

The only voice we hear is that of this one "ordinary woman", while the images portray her current life in Chicago, her hometown before and during the war, New York Post headlines, contemporary peace marches, present day footage of Germany, and much more. However, The Ties That Bind breaks with the usual format of war documentaries, thus allowing a different portrait of the individual to emerge, while it reflects on the current political situation in America and the filmmaker's activities in relation to those issues.

The film creates a powerful dialogue between past and present, between mother and daughter. But it is more than an interview of a mother by a
daughter—it is a profound search for a definition of history, and a challenge to our own responsibility for the present.

"The film is an original: a moving and courageous tribute from a child to a mother's beleaguered memory."
— David Edelstein, THE VILLAGE VOICE

"...a film that expressively and tenderly weds the personal to the political."
— Manohla Dargis, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Selected Film Festival Screenings:
New Directors/New Films, MoMA, New York; “Le Mois du Film Documentaire,” France; "In and Out of the Cold, 1945 to 1995", International Documentary Congress, LA; "Filmer l'Histoire", Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Flaherty Film Seminar; Salsomaggiore Film and TV Festival, Italy; Festival of New York Independent Films in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; "1945﷓1985: Women and Resistance", Amsterdam; "Unknown Territories: American Independent Films", Vienna

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