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Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project (2006)

In 2002, American photographer Tierney Gearon (1963- ), fresh from the disconcerting success of her 2001 exhibit at London's Saatchi Gallery, goes to upstate New York to begin a project ... See full summary »

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In 2002, American photographer Tierney Gearon (1963- ), fresh from the disconcerting success of her 2001 exhibit at London's Saatchi Gallery, goes to upstate New York to begin a project photographing her mother. Over the next few years, two filmmakers record Gearon's visits, accompanied by her two young children and later a baby. Gearon's mother can behave erratically, and the presence of mother, daughter, and children brings up Gearon's own feelings about her childhood. Her children are philosophical about being photographed and on exhibition. Portraits of family, discovery, and healing may emerge. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

25 September 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tierney Gearon: To shedio 'Mitera'  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Portrait of a Vulnerable Artist
15 January 2008 | by (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

At the end of this very moving and honest film, photographer Tierney Gearon tells her mother: 'You're a beautiful woman, mom.' Her mother replies: 'You are too darling, you're my daughter.'

This is a large part of the theme that drives this gentle and unusual examination of love between a schizophrenic mother and her talented but relentlessly driven daughter, an artist who takes stunning photographs.

Tierney is a caring and loving mother who raises her children as 'free spirits'. She is obsessed by taking pictures, and her mother, who weaves in and out of lucidity, brilliantly observes that 'she'll see these pictures years from now and see things in them that she never saw when she took them'.

This comment is perhaps the key to Tierney's self: is she unconsciously driven to photograph her mother and children again and again to find out, someday, who she really was? There are clues: all her photos are ultimately 'about myself'; her photos help her 'to feel grounded'; they're 'a way of healing myself'. The 'healing' is perhaps a reference to a long journey from a childhood when her mother started 'to lose it big-time' when Tierney was about 13 years old.

During one unguarded moment in the film, referring to pictures she has taken of her infant daughter, she imagines her own childhood and openly weeps. The viewer is struck by this woman's vivid sense of her own vulnerability.

Although they quarrel in the film, the camera picks up a wonderful tenderness and love between the mother and daughter (and among the children as well). Tierney 'is a kind of misfit in society, like I am,' says her 60ish mother, who is indeed a beautiful if frequently disturbed woman (she's also extremely photogenic, and someone, as a film editor says, who shows a flair for madness).

In the extras, we see Tierney at a high-chic New York exhibition of her photos, admired by all the beautiful people. She tells the camera she doesn't feel excited about the show although she perhaps should be. 'I just don't!!' she says at least three times. She is is flustered, anxious and uncomfortable with celebrity. 'I just want to get out of here,' says this beautiful, gentle, sweet woman, her deer-eyes in the headlights. That kind of honesty and basic humanity, with all its flaws aglare, is very rare in biographical documentaries.

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