Documentary Review: “In Our Mothers’ Gardens” Blooms With Love, Truth and Honor for Generations of Black Women

By Lisa D. DeNeal

There’s nobody’s business more greater and more truthful than Mama’s business. Especially if it’s a Black Mama/Mommy/Ma Dear’s business. In the documentary, “In Our Mothers’ Gardens,” their business is out for the world to learn, but it is done with love from their daughters and granddaughters.

“In Our Mothers’ Gardens” premiered today in select cities and on Netflix. The documentary was released by ARRAY, the multi-platform arts and social impact collective dedicated to narrative change that was created by award-winning filmmaker, Ava Duvernay(“Selma,” “I Will Follow,” “13th”). It’s received numerous accolades, including the official selection of the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival and CinemaAfrica Film Festival, which shows you that a global pandemic will not Black mothers, even on film.

‘In Our Mothers’ Gardens’ is directed and executive produced by Shantrell P. Lewis, who is a curator, filmmaker, critic and scholar. She is a 2012 Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellow and 2014 United Nations Programme for People of African Descent Fellow. Lewis is also co-founder of Shoppe Black (shoppeblack.us) with husband, Tony O. Lawson.

‘In Our Mothers’ Gardens’ features interviews with Black women of various backgrounds; Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement; The Rev. Dr. Theresa Thames, Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University; Tina Farris, a veteran tour manager for acclaimed musicians and recording artists, including The Roots, Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo; Latham Thomas, a doula based out of New York and founder of Mama Glow (mamaglow.com) and Dr. Britney Cooper, associate professor of Africana Studies/Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences.

Image: “In Our Mothers’ Garden” director, executive producer Shantrell P. Lewis (courtesy of ARRAY).

These women, including Lewis and other notable women, share their stories of their mothers, grandmothers, and the women before them all. You’ll listen to stories of love, families, the highs and lows of motherhood. Each of these women are history makers, but it is the histories of their descendants that show you the featured women’s strength.

Image: “In Our Mothers’ Gardens” set shot of Tina Farris (courtesy of ARRAY).

The women are filmed individually on a set and on location in their homes, with animated pieces and colorful backgrounds. While each woman shared touching and humorous stories, in between interviews are a couple of funny — the Harriet Tubman bit is laughable- and sobering moments.

Image: “In Our Mothers’ Gardens” set shot of #MeToo founder Tarana Burke (courtesy of ARRAY).

For example, Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, shares stories of her mother, who loved her despite not saying, “I love you.” Burke chuckles in the documentary about how there is a game played by the grandchildren to get their grandmother to say those three words.

Image: Latham Thomas, Doula and founder of Mama Glow (courtesy of ARRAY).

Released days before Mother’s Day, “In Our Mothers’ Gardens” will make you smile, laugh, and reminisce about growing up and being raised by your mother, or grandmother, or any woman who nurtured you to be the Black woman you are.

Image: Rutgers University associate professor, Dr. Britney Cooper (courtesy of ARRAY).

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec8YgoVFN7U

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