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Once My Mother is a deeply personal work in which Sophia Turkiewicz sets out to find the missing pieces in her mother’s extraordinary life story before it is too late. Helen, having come to Australia as a Polish refugee in the late 1940s, is nearing the end of her life, and slipping into dementia. Now finding herself mothering her mother, Turkiewicz is still coming to grips with her own enduring sense of abandonment and betrayal, seeking to finally comprehend the incomprehensible: how could her mother, herself an orphan, have abandoned Sophia as a child and placed her in an orphanage for two long years?
Turkiewicz uses contemporary footage and interview, past works, family archives, historical archival footage, reconstructed material and a delicate narration in a masterful telling of an astonishing and touching story. Seamlessly weaving the personal and historical, her own life and her mother’s, and juxtaposing present and past, Turkiewicz creates a powerful, poetic and moving screenplay. Dealing with the complexities of grief, loss, betrayal and forgiveness, Once My Mother is ultimately a love poem from a daughter to a mother, delivered at the eleventh hour and all the more poignant for it.