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Once My Mother (2013)

Australian filmmaker Sophia Turkiewicz investigates why her Polish mother abandoned her and uncovers the truth behind her mother's wartime escape from a Siberian gulag, leaving Sophia to confront her own capacity for forgiveness.


Sophia Turkiewicz
6 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Zofia Wichlacz
Karolina Porcari
Wenanty Nosul
Artur Urbanski


When Australian filmmaker Sophia Turkiewicz was seven years old, her Polish mother, Helen, abandoned her in an Adelaide orphanage. Sophia never forgot this maternal act of betrayal. Now in middle age, as Sophia examines her troubled relationship with Helen, she discovers the story behind Helen's miraculous wartime escape from a Siberian gulag, her subsequent survival against the odds and the truth about an historic betrayal involving Stalin and the Allies. With Helen sliding into dementia, Sophia must confront her own demons. Did she ever truly know this woman who became her mother? Does she have it in her heart to forgive her? And is it too late? Written by Rod Freedman, Producer

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A story of survival and forgiveness. See more »


Family | History | War




Australia | Poland | Ukraine



Release Date:

12 October 2013 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Era uma Vez Minha Mãe See more »

Filming Locations:

Australia See more »

Company Credits

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User Reviews

Once My Mother (2014)
27 October 2014 | by gregdrury33See all my reviews

Extraordinarily poignant and a powerful documentary providing an incredible insight into one woman's epic struggle to survive WWII, Stalin's gulags and how she triumphs over impossible odds. In the end it's a love story of a daughter telling her mothers will to live and make a new life for herself and her daughter in a new land. I found the historical war footage, Russian gulags, interviews of her mother in Australia in the 1960's and finally as an old lady in her final days gave the story depth in terms of context and made it very compelling to learn about the WWII history, Stalin, survival and the documentary makers reconciliation and honoring her mothers strength and the love for each other.

Highly recommend it.

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