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Directed by María Silvia Esteve

  • Argentina, Chile 2018; 103 min
  • Original version: Spanish
  • Genre: Documentary


Silvia looks dazzling in the old VHS footage of her wedding in the early 1980s—she’s a beautiful woman about to embark on a promising future with a diplomat husband, and a comfortable house to live in. The home videos that follow show more highlights from her life: her first wedding anniversary, her daughters growing up, and the farewell party at the embassy.
Meanwhile, the audio commentary offers a very different reality. The film’s director María Silvia Esteve is the middle one of Silvia’s daughters, and she and her siblings talk about their parents’ gradual descent into a spiral of angry clashes, psychological problems and prescription drugs. By recounting events from their childhood, they try to get a handle on what went wrong in their family. And they wonder why their mother, with whom they had a very close relationship, never managed to improve the situation or leave their father.
Esteve uses VHS footage in an original way, combining it with cut-up quotes, excerpts from her mother’s favorite film, and classical music to construct a poetic family chronicle about memory, powerlessness and keeping up appearances.

Director's Statement

This film is my attempt to reconstruct the memory of my mother through 18 years of family recordings. As each effort to reach SILVIA pushes her away and taints my remembrance with my family’s divergent recollections, features of my mother’s character emerge, completing and entangling unspoken aspects of her figure. The sound and the image of the film are treated in layers that overlap one another and compose movements, like a stream flowing towards its fall. As the overlays start to crumble according to the progression of the story, the editing becomes rawer and more stripped off. Although SILVIA deals with the domestic and gender-based violence that my mother survived through her life, the center of the film is the bond between a mother and her three daughters, and a mourning process that unfolds as the story grows. The film deals with what is told, what is implied, what is consciously not said and what is tangible but never entirely known. The most valuable things lay behind what can be inferred from what is spoken, all that pulsates beneath the omissions. And even though I will never be able to piece together my mother’s memory, SILVIA finds new meanings in every attempt.



    María Silvia Esteve