The Mother – film

The Mother, trailer

The film is available with subtitles in French, English, German or Spanish and in different formats (DVD, MP4, Betacam, etc.). Contact us by email (info @ to tell us your needs and the preferred purchase method.

In a train which leads to an unknown destination, a Russian mother tells her life with her nine children. Liuba escaped from her violent husband with all her children to North of Russia. She raises them along with her daughter Alesia. They work both at the farm in de country-side. All their love, they give them to their children. They take to their house another hungry little boy, two year old, Sacha, the son of another girl working on the farm. Liuba and Alesia belong to those people who sacrifice themselves in the name of their love of mother. Two women are still hoping to find a good husband but the search for a husband ends up in a struggle to kick out a parasite.
A film about strong women with all their hopes, fragile children with all their innocence, weak men with all their flaws.

Artistic and technical credits

Directed by

Antoine Cattin et Pavel Kostomarov


Antoine Cattin et Pavel Kostomarov

Edited by

Antoine Cattin et Pavel Kostomarov

Produced by

Les Films Hors-Champ (Suisse)


Elena Hill

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Co-produced by

Les Films d’Ici (France)

Serge Lalou

Parallax Pictures (Russie)

Ekaterina Melikseyova

ARTE France – « LA LUCARNE »

Direction documentaires

Thierry Garrel – Pierrette Ominetti

Chargé de Programmes

Luciano Rigolini

Télévision Suisse Romande

une entreprise de SRG SSR idée suisse

Unité des films documentaires

Irène Challand / Gaspard Lamunière

In association

YLE TV2 Documentaires

Ikka Vehkalahti


Rudy Buttignol

With the support of

Office Fédéral de la Culture

Direction du Développement et de la Coopération

Fonds Regio

Fondation Vaudoise pour le cinéma

Fondation Soros

Music composer

Thierry van Osselt Alexander J.S. Craker

Oleg Gazmanov, Valerija


80 minutes

Original language



Français, english, Deutsch, español

Distribution world sales

Les Films Hors-Champ

Elena HILL

CH-1373 Chavornay

Awards and nominations

European Film Academy nomination

Best European documentary 2008 – Prix Arte

Swiss film prize nomination, 2008

Best documentary film

Prize Eurodoc, best European documentary film

Sevilla Festival de Cine Europeo, Spain, 2008

Prize of jury, best documentary film,

BAFICI, Buenos Aires, 2009

George Foundation Prize, best documentary

Newcomer, Vision du Réel, Nyon 2008

Prize MDR , best documentary film

Leipzig Film Festival 2008

Grand Prize, best documentary film

Agadir International Documentary Film, 2008

Best Image. Best editing

RIDM, Montreal, Canada, 2008

Grand Prize of the Festival

Best documentary film international

Festival de Cine de Valdivia, Chile, 2008

Grand Prize of the Festival

Prize of the Press

Film Festival Ekaterinburg, 2007

Best Documentary Art

Best TV docu

National Laurier, Moscow, 2007

Prize Triomphe to youth

Best Film of the year, Moscow, 2007

Best Film. Critics’ Prize.

« Kinoshock Festival, Anapa, Russia, 2007

Critics’ Prize Russian

Best documentary of the year, 2007

Press Extracts

“The Mother” is a lyrical and compelling portrait of Liubov, a no-nonsense, single, working-class mother of nine in rural Russia. In Russian, Liubov means « love », and while she often curses out her children, her affection is clear. Liubov’s life as a mother had a heart-breaking start-she was « sold » to a man who raped her-and now, as a farm labourer, she can barely keep food on the table. With her eldest son in jail and another with a learning disability, Liubov has to work even harder. But as the film movingly illustrates, her hardships are punctuated by moments of great joy, like her eldest daughter’s marriage. Liubov is always on the move, whether running away from her violent husband or to her eldest son in jail, raising the question of whether she will ever be able to be still and truly happy. Not just a sensitive and intimate portrayal of an amazing character’s plight, “The Mother” is also an innovation in storytelling.

Shannon Abel, Hot Docs Festival, Toronto, Canada, avril 2008

“Une grande compassion et un sentiment d’amour contagieux… Etonnamment, je ne peux dire que la mère soit malheureuse… Un cinéma de gros plans très puissant..

Naoum Kleiman, directeur de la cinémathèque russe

Though its focus remains tight on its main subject — a Russian single mother of nine — Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov’s award-winning film has the scope, precision and resonance of a literary masterpiece. The cinematography is startling, with bleached colors that reflect the washed-out dreams of its subjects. Though shot largely with handheld cameras, its compositions would do Cartier-Bresson proud. The film’s blend of long takes and jump cuts give it the feel of an epic. And the characters and their stories are richer than fiction, as they celebrate, fight, grieve and survive. But The Mother is more than the sum of these magnificent parts, thanks to the richness and complexity of the themes it explores: the daily violence absorbed by women and children, the impossible traps of modern masculinity, the generations-long impact of addiction, the innocence of first love. Taking the long-form documentary to new heights, Cattin and Kostomarov have crafted an urgent classic of 21st-century cinema.

Jason Silverman, True/False Film Festival, Columbia, USA, février 2008

Quelle femme ! On ne la verra jamais cesser de sourire. On peut trouver que des films russes montrant des hommes inutiles ou nuisibles, perdus dans la vodka, la sieste, et l’autodérision, et des femmes admirables portant le pays sur leurs épaules, on en a déjà vus. Dans celui-ci, les propos de Lyuba bénéficient d’une spontanéité qu’a permise sa longue familiarité avec Cattin et Kostomarov.

Jacques Vercueil, Pro-fil (Interfilm), Leipzig, novembre 2007

“The Mother is a first-person film. It’s about a mother of nine children who tells her own story. She is torn between her kids and her job. She understands that her country doesn’t care about her and her children, but she knows that they need her as she needs them. And this is the only reason why, she says, you have to survive.”

Lioubov Arkus, chief editor of the cinema review, “Seans”, St-Petersburg.

“There’s great compassion and a contagious feeling of love… Surprisingly, I can’t say that the mother is unhappy… A very powerful close-ups cinema.”

Naum Kleiman, director of the Russian Museum of cinema

“Camera and editing ceaselessly bring us back to this maëlström of events and strokes of bad luck. Some of these images will haunt us for a long time, like the one of that kid dragging a sledge in the mud of the stable. But there is no uneasiness about it, on the contrary: we dream and hope with Liouba and her exuberant family.”

Declaration of the MDR jury,Leipzig Film Festival, November 2007.

“I knew already there was no life beyond the suburbs of Moscow, but nothing of that sort! In the middle of a pitiful village a foster mother supports eight children. The eldest is in jail. She works at the kolkhoze: a shithole and a ruin. The cows get stolen. The tractor drivers are pissed. The hay is rotten. It’s Russia. My motherland.”

Iuri’s Life Journal, on the internet.

… Caméra et montage nous ramènent sans cesse à ce maëlström d’événements et de coups du sort. Certaines images nous hanteront longtemps, comme celle du gamin tirant un traîneau dans la boue de l’étable. Mais nous n’en conservons pas un sentiment de malaise, au contraire : nous rêvons et nous espérons avec Liouba et sa famille exubérante.

Déclaration du jury de la MDR Festival de Leipzig, novembre 2007

“This is an intimate, lovely film with tremendous access to a world that we would not know otherwise. The mother is a natural actor, almost like out of a Mike Leigh kitchen sink drama, and the final scene of her striding in close-up against the train, unsuccessfully pursuing one of her sons, is already a classic.”

Paul Sturz, director of the True / False Festival, Columbia, USA

“I can’t make up my mind about it: is it a documentary film or a fiction film? I don’t understand how they made it! I was moved to tears by the mother’s love.”

Alexander Mindadze, Russian screenwriter and film director (The Separation)


Italy, Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema, Pesaro, 2011

Russia, Internet-festival « Rossiskaya Gazeta » Dubl DV@, Different cities, Russia, 2011

Russia, Film Festival of CIS countries, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia « Kinoshock », Anapa, 2011

Chine, 16th Shanghai Television Festival, Shanghai, 2010

France, Month of the documentary in France, Different cities, 2010

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Russia, International Art Documentary Film Festival « Artdocfest », Moscow, 2010

United KingdomRussian Film Festival, London, 2010

Argentina, BAFICI, Buenos Aires, 2009

Belgium, Russian Documentary Film Festival « Flahertiana in Brussels », Brussels, 2009

France, Aye Aye Film Festival Nancy-Lorraine, Nancy, 2009

Italy, Trieste Film Festival, Trieste, 2009

Greece, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, 2009

Japon, Yamagata International Film Festival, Tokyo, 2009

Serbia, Magnificent 7 – European Feature Documentary Film Festival, Belgrade, 2009

Croatia, Zagrebdox, Zagreb, 2009

Czech Republic, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Karlovy Vary, 2008

Leipzig-Nyon-Jihlava-Varsovie-Copenhague, DOC Alliance 2008

Russia, Documentary and feature film festival  »Kinoteatr.doc », Moscow, 2008

Russia, Festival Russian kino ‘Moscow Premier Screenings’, Moscow, 2008

Switzerland, Film Festival Locarno, Locarno 2008

Switzerland, Visions du Réel, International Film Festival, Nyon, 2008

Canada, Hot Docs Film Festival, Toronto, 2008

Portugal, Indielisboa, Lisbonne, 2008

Ireland, Guth Gafa Documentary Film Festival, Kells County Meath, 2008

Germany, Dok Fest, Munich, 2008

Austria, VIENNALE 2008, Vienna International Film Festival, 2008

Brazil, International Film Festival do Rio, 2008

Chile, Valdivia International Film Festival, Valdivia, 2008

USA, True/False Film Fest, 2008

Finland, DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival, 2008

France, États généraux du film documentaire, Lussas, 2008

Estonia, Pärnu Film Festival, Pärnu, 2008

France, Festival Francophone de Namur, 2008

Czech Republic, Jihlava International Documentary Film, Jihlava, 2008

Hungary, VERZIO Documentary Film Festival, Budapest, 2008

Canada, RIDM – Rencontres Internationales du documentaire de Montréal, 2008

Spain, L’Alternativa, Festival de Cinema Independent de Barcelona, 2008

Canada, Global Visions Film Festival, Edmonton, Alberta, 2008

Taiwan, Taiwan International Documentary Festival, Taipei, 2008

Denmark, CPH_DOX Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, 2008

The Netherlands, Noordelijk Film Festival, 2008

France, Les Écrans Documentaires Arcueil, Arcueil, 2008

Russia, IV Open Cinema Int. Short and Animation Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Competition, 2008

Poland, 5th Planete Doc Review, Warsaw, 2008

France, Paris International Film Festival, Paris, 2007

Russia, Annual award of the Guild of Historians of Cinema and Film Critics, Moscow, 2007

Further reading / À lire aussi