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Something for Mom: Sundance Flicks with Memorable Mothers

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Down to the Bone

Nate von Zumwalt

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Of course, you already knew that. Because while it may not be the paramount holiday of the spring season, we nonetheless treat it as such—and rightly so. Mothers are an eclectic breed, from the (seemingly) tyrannical to the meddling to the eternally devoted. All idiosyncrasies aside, they’re still our mothers, and we have them to thank for our existence and well-being. For every variety of real-life mom, there’s a cinematic representation to accompany them. Here are some of the most memorable moms—both authentic and fictional—from Sundance-supported films. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Precious


Precious

Gabourey Sidibe plays the title character in writer-director Lee Daniels’ searing portrait of a relentlessly abusive family. The daughter of a ruthless and domineering mother, Precious is bent on carving a different path for herself and her own child in this riveting drama set in Harlem. Sidibe received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her stunning performance; and Precious snagged the Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, and Special Jury Prize in one fell swoop at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Gas Food Lodging


Gas Food Lodging

The daunting and all-too-common undertaking faced by single moms is captured with tender insight and honesty in Alison Anders’s Gas Food Lodging, as a family of women struggle to find meaning in a desolate New Mexico town.

Down to the Bone


Down to the Bone

Director Debra Granik’s 2004 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award winner stars Vera Farmiga as a working class mother fighting to save her marriage and raise her sons while trapped in drug addiction. Stark, chilly, and authentic, Down to the Bone is a painful tale of one mother’s repetitive downfall despite a resolve to change.

My Kid Could Paint That


My Kid Could Paint That

Rest assured, the prior three moms were all fictional. But the same can’t be said for the parents of Marla Olmstead, the 4-year-old girl who was heralded as the next Picasso after selling more than $300,000 worth of paintings. Director Amir Bar-Lev takes us on a ride inside the media frenzy surrounding the Olmstead family, and endeavors to determine if this is a story of a veritable child prodigy or a pitiable example of spotlight-obsessed parents.


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