Directing an Experimental Art Film About Motherhood as an Adoptee


Over the past few months, I’ve had the honor of bringing violinist and experimental musician, Sita Chay’s ambitious conceptual project about motherhood to life.

I’d shot a performance video for her many years ago, and she had apparently followed my work ever since. I did a music video for other musicians in her network, including Jason Lindner (of Now vs Now and of Bowie’s Black Star album fame), and she said she really wanted me to be the one to bring this concept film to life.

As an adoptee myself, the concept of motherhood is loaded and nuanced, especially when it comes to biological motherhood. I realize that as someone who doesn’t have a biological connection to my Mother, I can only guess at what it feels like to have that bond. I’ve seen it in movies, heard about it, read about it, but since blood has never been part of my definition or experience of a mother-daughter relationship, it’s always been a bit of a mystery to me.

I am intrigued by biological motherhood, just as I am intrigued by Orthodox Jewish culture as a Christian director or Afrobeat culture as a non-African music video director. No matter what culture, experiences, or background or values my collaborators have, I am always fascinated to learn as much as I can about their perspective and values. To me, this is the most fulfilling experience I have as a director – to be invited to peer inside these intimate identities and experience the world from a different point of view.

Through listening to Sita’s music, I felt like I gained a deeper understanding of the facets of motherhood that don’t get that much attention – the trepidation, the frustration, the fear and concern for the future, the physical and mental toll, exhaustion, as well as all the joy and limitless potential.

Also present seemed to be this pure sense of hopes and best wishes for the future – which I think is a most selfless form of love, and something I connected with the most.

It made me think about the things that separate parental love from other forms of love – such as having the purest hope of a bright future for another person. Hoping that your choices and guidance will set them up for success and help them achieve their dreams. Believing in their potential and doing everything in your power to support them in realizing it, while being aware that every choice one makes as a parent will shape your child’s whole world. It’s a lot of responsibility!

Motherhood made the production of this film pretty chaotic – but I hope that at the end of the day, this film portrays the kinds of explorations and nuances that Sita sought to create through music.