The Disappearance of My Mother chronicles Benedetta Barzini desire to leave this world behind. An iconic fashion model in the 1960s, she became a muse to Warhol, Dali, Penn and Avedon. As a radical feminist in the 1970s, she fought for the rights and emancipation of women. But at the age of 75, she is fed up with all the roles that life has imposed upon her and decides to leave everything and everybody behind, to disappear to a place as far as possible from the world she knows. Hiding behind the camera, her son Beniamino witnesses her journey. Having filmed her since he was a child in spite of all her resistance, he now wants to make a film about her, to keep her close for as long as possible – or, at least, as long as his camera keeps running. The making of the film turns into a battle between mother son, a stubborn fight to capture the ultimate image of Benedetta – the image of her liberation. Director Beniamino Barrese joins us to talk about this remarkably intimate, raw film and his complex relationship with his muse and mother who reluctantly helping him with his “project” as she prepares for her final exit.
“One of the most moving and complex films at Sundance. I’ll add to my list of heroines Benedetta Barzini, an Italian 1960s supermodel who became a leftist feminist and mother.” – Amy Taubin, Film Comment
“A film that both beguiles and unsettles as it salutes a remarkable woman… who has spent a lifetime challenging the influence of the fashion industry and staring down the unflinching gaze of the camera.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“One solitary word cannot fully encapsulate how utterly personal the documentary comes across. Barrese guides the audience through his mother’s mindscape, and as a thoughtful, remarkably insightful woman, the documentary reflects this sentiment through its visual language and fluid editing… ‘The Disappearance of My Mother’ is a noble effort, and as the subject of the film, Barzini herself is an intriguing personality; her perspective on the world is genuinely moving to hear at times, and her insights often work their way into your mind, inspiring you to openly consider your own life. Similarly, Barrese’s talents as a filmmaker cannot be disregarded.” – THE PLAYLIST, Jonathan Christian
“Deeply personal and shot through with fascinating contradictions, ‘The Disappearance of My Mother’ is a portrait of a woman in rebellion… Barzini is a severe, unsparing critic of the commodification and exploitation of the female body by men, which greatly complicates her son’s insistent, at times intrusive gaze. It also deepens the movie, making the personal ferociously political.” – NEW YORK TIMES, Manohla Dargis