My Mother’s Garden

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 – 7:30 PM Vancouver Premiere!
USA 2007. Director: Cynthia Lester

As a child growing up in suburban Granada Hills, California, the first time filmmaker Cynthia Lester realized something was really wrong with her mother was when school friends said they had seen her in the alley going through their dumpster. Born in Poland in 1944, and raised by her Aunt, an Auschwitz survivor, Eugenia Lester grew up in an austere communist society. She immigrated to America in 1974, and faced poverty and depression while struggling to raise a family as a single mother. Throughout her adult years, Eugenia’s hoarding behaviour began to take over, eventually forcing her children to leave home at very young ages to fend for themselves. Years later, Eugenia is living in her garden because there is literally no room for her in a house now stuffed to the ceiling with junk of all shapes and sizes. As Eugenia is threatened with eviction and the demolishment of her home, her daughter and three sons come together for the first time in their adult lives to try and cope with their mother’s disorder and rebuild a lost sense of family. Cynthia spirits her mother away to her own home in New York, and Eugenia’s other children spend eight weeks removing tons of refuse from their mother’s home. But when Eugenia returns, her response is not what they had hoped for… Screened at Hot Docs, Sheffield Doc/Fest and winner of the Special Jury Honorable Mention for Documentary Features at Slamdance. Colour, DigiBeta, 70 mins.

Post-screening discussion with Dr. Michael Passmore and Dr. Ingrid Sochting

Dr. Michael Passmore is a Geriatric Psychiatrist with Providence Health Care in Vancouver.  He has experience working with older adults who develop abnormal behaviour such as hoarding, usually in the context of late-life brain disorders such as dementia.

Dr. Ingrid Sochting is the Chief Psychologist at Richmond Mental Health
Outpatient Services and Clinical Assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, UBC. She has been instrumental in developing a number of group therapy programs for mood and anxiety disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder for adults and adolescents, a number of whom have struggled with hoarding behaviour.

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