Motherland. 2017. USA/Philippines. Directed by Ramona S. Diaz. In Filipino; English subtitles. 94 min.
Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, in Metro Manila, is called the busiest maternity hospital in the world. Overcrowded, noisy, frenetic, and fast-paced, the hospital offers a rare safety net for poor women, where they can give birth under the care of professionals. This vérité-style documentary provides an immersive, revealing look into an active ecosystem and a complex society. Beyond stories of poverty, domestic hardship, and lack of family planning, the film shows women—pregnant women, mothers with newborns, nurses, social workers, and administrators—banding together to extend support, comfort, and laughter to each other. Filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz (Imelda, Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey), known for her character-driven documentaries, demonstrates an intimate bond with her subjects and delivers a firsthand glimpse into the guts of Philippine society. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision.