Benedetta Barzini was a revered Italian model who shattered stereotypes by becoming a journalist and professor and gained notoriety by publicly critiquing the fashion industry’s deep-seated misogyny. But now, in her 70s, Barzini’s distaste for the world of images has deepened into an existential crisis. Quietly and without warning, she packs her belongings and tells her son Beniamino she intends to disappear from the material world forever. Alarmed, Beniamino devises a plan he hopes will allow her to confront—instead of flee—the very thing she most distrusts: the camera. By capturing her on film, he intends to salvage his mother’s true essence and preserve her narrative.
The Disappearance of My Mother is a radical documentary born out of a series of confrontations between a mother eager to set herself free and a son desperate to use the medium of film to keep her close. What begins as a deeply personal fight for control transforms into a profoundly collaborative project, one that attempts to rectify decades of harm inflicted by the camera’s oppressive gaze.
Beniamino Barrese is an Italian photographer, director of photography, and filmmaker. He earned degrees in philosophy at the Università degli Studi di Milano, international political economy at King’s College London, and cinematography at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England. Barrese’s work as a director of photography includes fiction and documentary features, commercials, music promos, and short films. The Disappearance of My Mother is his first feature-length film as a director.