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International Documentary (IDA): Cover Story on Martha & Ethel

“A documentary about two aged nannies and the Baby Boomer girls they raised might seem an unlikely sort of film to generate a major buzz, but that’s what happened when Martha & Ethel (the nannies), produced and directed by Jyll Johnstone and coproduced by Barbara Ettinger (the girls), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994. Sony Classics Pictures snapped up the delicate personal chronicle of the lives of Martha Kneifel, a German-born baby nurse who fled to the United States during Hitler’s regime, and Ethel Edwards, the daughter of black South Carolina sharecroppers who became the cornerstone of a well-to-do white family in New York. Richly layered and utterly charismatic, Martha & Ethel delves deeply into the dynamics of the postwar American family, revealing sometimes painful truths about childhood, relationships between daughters and mothers (and mother figures), the changing roles of women, and the evolving structure of the family.”

International Documentary Article
International Documentary Article

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