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A woman looks back on her life, through narration and song. In Mother Suriname – Mama Sranan, filmmaker Tessa Leuwsha uses a stream of fascinating colorized archival footage to illustrate the lives of Surinamese women like her grandmother, who was a washerwoman.
She’s born in a hamlet in 1905 to a white mother and a black father—a disgrace. Her father is forced to leave and her mother also disappears. She’s despised as a half-caste, does not go to school and soon becomes aware of the state of colonial relations (“we work and they watch”). She has a child whose father is always elsewhere, working for the Dutch. Determined to make the most of her life, she moves to Paramaribo, where she has three more children she raises on her own.
Meanwhile, she sees her homeland moving towards more self-esteem. Before Suriname’s independence in 1975 however, all her children move to the Netherlands—and she eventually follows them, with sorrow in her heart: “In Holland, paradise is like a shadow, just in front of you or behind you, never with you.” Still, strong-willed as she is, she finds a place where she connects with her homeland, her spiritual roots and herself.