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Nila Varman

Nila Varman

Listings and reviews (1)

Earth Mama

Earth Mama

4 out of 5 stars

‘I don’t need a gold star to tell me I’m a good mom!’, says Gia (Tia Nomore) in Savannah Leaf’s striking debut drama. But what is a ‘good mom’? How does society even measure such a thing? ‘Daddy issues’ get disproportionate airtime on screen, but it’s not often we get to experience the full plurality of motherhood in all its meanings. And especially not in such a powerful, realistic portrayal of single motherhood within a marginalised community of colour. Leaf, a former Olympic volleyball player, has constructed something truly impressive from the building blocks of her own 2020 short film The Heart Still Hums (co-directed with Bones and All actress Taylor Russell). She integrates perspectives of class and race – as well as legacy and roots – to show how a draining welfare system is stacked against so many moms.   Often light on dialogue, it gives brief snapshots of the life of 24-year-old Bay Area mother Gia. Heavily pregnant, she struggles to balance work with her court-mandated parenting classes, while striving to keep her family together. To compound her worries, she’s behind on foster care payments and is only allotted an hour a week with her children in a room with no windows – all under the watchful eye of a social worker. When she isn’t attending drug recovery and parent groups, ironically she’s working at a portrait studio, where she helps families create memories and observes various lives outside of the system Gia grew up in. Heartbreakingly, her desperation to sho