'Hackney Lullabies' Doc Wins Berlinale's Today Award

Japanese director Kyoko Miyake's documentary is a compassionate, intimate account of the difficulties mothers face raising children in a new country.

Hackney Lullabies, a 10-minute documentary about migrant women raising children in the East London suburb of Hackney, is this year's winner of the Berlin Today Award, a prize given to the best of five short films selected by the Berlinale Talent Campus.

Director Kyoko Miyake moved from Japan to the U.K. several years ago, and was inspired both by her own experience as a migrant and the making of her previous film, Mrs. Burnes Sunday Roast. That film's main subject, a Japanese food writer living in England, told Miyake about her experience raising a child there. "She wanted to bring her daughter up as British," Miyake said, "but she realised that she didn't know any English nursery rhymes and lullabies."

Lullabies develops this initial idea into a compassionate, intimate account of the difficulties mothers face raising children in a new country. "She has her roots here, which I don't," one of the mothers says about her daughter, encapsulating the complexity of the situation. The women, all residents of Hackney who have moved there from various parts of the world, are shown to be sensitive to these difficulties even as they appreciate the opportunities their children will have in their new home. The songs act as a soundtrack and link these families and their different stories together. Quite poignantly, the lullabies sung by the women in their native languages point to the difficulties they will face maintaining cultural connections to their children as they grow older.

Conall Cash (Australia) is a participant of Talent Press, a practical training program of the Berlinale Talent Campus.

 

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