95' 2017 USA, Philippines director: Ramona S. Diaz cinematography: Nadia Hallgren, Clarissa De Los Reyes editing: Leah Marino, Ramona S. Diaz production: CineDiaz, Inc., ITVS, CPB
The Dr. José Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila is considered the largest obstetrics clinic in the world—or at least the busiest, with hundreds of children born there every day. Wandering around the overcrowded corridors and peeking into delivery rooms, Diaz continuously adds subjects to her film, including patients, their relatives and doctors. And she captures all the compelling details: somewhere among the crowds, a newborn is lost; staff make reassuring announcements through a hoarse megaphone. Her constant movement is conducive to new interactions, all the more so since two mothers are usually assigned to every bed. Hardly any of them have reached the age of 30 yet, but the majority have already been patients at the hospital several times—contraception is not very popular in the Philippines. Despite the crowds and the lack of equipment—instead of incubators, it is recommended that the mothers of premature babies warm them using their own body heat—the eponymous Motherland is, for most patients, a refuge where they can take a break from the grim reality of everyday life.