Pluto author and film-maker Mira Hamermesh’s award-winning documentary examining the relationship between black maids and their employers in 1980’s South Africa is being screened at the BFI on 6th March.
Shot in South Africa, the subtly understated Maids and Madams examines the tragedy of apartheid through the emotional relationship between the black household worker and the white employer. Winner of the Prix Italia, it shows how apartheid begins at home – where white-aproned black maids tend the children of their white madams, while their own children stay neglected, jealous and without prospects in crumbling, remote townships.
The screening will include a Q&A with Sir Jeremy Isaacs. More details about this fantastic event can be found on the BFI website, here.
The River of Angry Dogs: A Memoir
In the book, Mira gives a vivid account of her remarkable life. As a young Jewish teenager she escaped the horrors of German-occupied Poland with only her natural creativity, a rebellious spirit and a talent for good fortune to rely on. Of the millions of words written about WWII, few come from women, and even fewer recount such adventure. Spared the experience of the ghetto and the concentration camp that claimed most of her family, Mira’s story is a life-affirming account of a life lived to the full, and a meditation on survival and coincidence, that pays homage to other people’s courage.
Recounting her escape into Soviet-occupied Poland, Mira shows how her status as a refugee has continued to influence her throughout her life. The journey led her across Europe and eventually to Palestine in 1941; her account of that region, before the establishment of Israel, provides a fascinating insight into the historical setting for today’s conflict.
Having settled in London where she studied art and married, she eventually won a place at the celebrated Polish Film School in Lodz. At the height of the Cold War Mira Hamermesh commuted across the Iron Curtain – her experience of a divided Europe offers many insights into the political factors that affected people’s everyday lives.
Mira’s theme of political conflict, so often explored in her films, is brought to life here in an intimate account that will live long in the memory.