What was the reason you started this project? What’s your background and how did it lead you to work on this archive?
I got pregnant. I’m a filmmaker; I’ve worked a lot with propaganda and archives—my background is in communist, postcommunist stuff, and my previous work is a trilogy of films in China, Romania, and Russia that thinks through that set of historical questions and engagements, a lot of it through propaganda material. I’m very attuned to propaganda. So when I was pregnant it became immediately, abundantly obvious to me that almost everything I was reading or seeing or being exposed to was telling me how to give birth or how to be pregnant or how to mother or look after my child. It was clear to me immediately that all of this is an intense space of propaganda.
I have a very archival and historical turn of mind. I wanted to know, What’s the history of these conversations? Where is this coming from? Why is it such an intense space of ideology? So I started buying films on eBay. There’s a lot of weird stuff kicking around on eBay. A lot of libraries now sell off their 16mm educational collections. After a year or so of doing that, I started going into the archives, and it started feeling like it could be a real project rather than a strange hobby. But it came out of an attempt to think through that experience of being pregnant and encountering spaces of maternal training.
Lusztig has some unusual views on the birth centres and their approach to pain, but this discussion is fascinating and the film looks incredibly thought-provoking.
(Thanks to JE for the link).