The Fighter Mother Review

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AKA: Täwagaʾi ʾadä

Genre: Historical Documentary/War Documentary
Year Released: 2015

Distributor: Love You Erena

Origin: Eritrea
Running Time: 36 minutes

Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: N/A

For Fans Of: The Fighter Mother is a unique documentary especially given the subject matter.
Notes:
-This film is streaming on YouTube
.
Fun Facts:
-Director Weiny Tewolde has also directed Amanit, and Amanit Manete.

-The war the women talked about was Eritrea’s war for independence. That country would be independent in 1991.


It’s been a while since I’ve covered a war documentary. The last one I critiqued was Nanking which I thought was a good watch despite the brutal subject matter. This time around, I randomly found some documentaries on YouTube that dealt with other wars I wasn’t too familiar with. In this case it was a war for independence as Eritrea tried to be free from colonial rule. What gave this a little twist was how many women gladly volunteered for the service to fight for their country.

How does this short documentary fare?

The Fighter Mother documents the lives of several female veterans who fought in the Ethiopian-Eritrean war. They talk about their experience fighting alongside the men, but there was also talk on how some of them did or did not want children. Not because the latter hate children, but because their duty was to make an independent Eritrea. That country was colonized for generations by the Italians, then the British, and then Ethiopia whom they were warring with at the time. These veterans give their thoughts as they describe how they became fighter mothers whether or not they had children.

This was a sobering look at an event in Eritrea. I wasn’t aware that women were allowed to be in the military, but I was certainly surprised seeing the survivors and some archived pictures of when they were decades younger. Their ideologies of sacrificing themselves by not having kids in order to secure an independent Eritrea was certainly eye-opening. The level of loyalty and patriotism is something that would put so many other nations to shame. One of the veterans who was childless said that her child was a Kalashnikov which was such a dark thing to hear. I would bet you money that these feminists who claim to be strong women wouldn’t have lasted a day in their shoes when they talk about what they’ve seen on the battlefields or what they’ve done in order to survive. These testimonies were something else and can be quite heartbreaking to hear some of these stories.

The Fighter Mother did suffer in some issues. There were subtitle issues with typos (Heroine is spelled “heroin” at one point) and some parts that didn’t get translated when what was being said was a lot longer than what was on the screen. There were too many talking head interviews which got to be limited from a production standpoint. The soundtrack sounded alright at first, but it got annoying as it was looped for most of it’s run time. There should’ve been more variety in the music choices and scoring for this documentary.

This Eritrean short documentary was certainly informative when it came to that war. The stories really sell this thing from so many of these veterans as they talk about their service and their personal decisions to fight for independence. I do wish aspects of the production would’ve improved with the interview shots and the choice of music. The Fighter Mother was still a good watch and a decent entry into Eritrea’s cinema scene.


Adjustable Point System:

Add 1-2 points if you like documentaries with (real) strong women.
Subtract 1-2 points if you want pristine production in your docs.

Pros:
-Powerful testimonies
-Showing strong women without being gimmicky
-Very unique documentary concept

Cons:
-Rampant talking heads shots
-Subtitle errors
-Repetitive soundtrack

Final Score: 6/10 points



Content Warning: The Fighter Mother would get a soft PG-13 if this got a real rating. There’s talk about war and dying. Most of the women talk about being childless and some of the conversations get disturbing when abortions and miscarriages are discussed.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos used under US “Fair Use” laws. The Fighter Mother is property of Love You Erena. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Love You Erena.

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