Sheffield Doc Fest Exclusive Review: Your Mothers Comfort (Aconchego da tua Mãe)

Year: 2020
Runtime: 75 Minutes 
Director: Adam Golub

By Bianca Garner

On the wall of a LGBTQ+ safe house called Nem House located in Rio De Janeiro are the following words: I am a Feminist Whore. This could well be the motto for the transgender political activist, Indianara Siqueira, who we follow in this documentary from filmmaker Adam Golub. Of course, Indianara is so much more than just a “feminist whore”, throughout the documentary we see countless transgendered and queer indviduals come up to her and say how much of an inspiration for her. 

In 2016, Indianara campaigned for Rio De Janeiro’s local government under the slogan “A whore for city council”, we watch as her followers and supporters march the street chanting “If I go to hell I’ll suck off the Devil”. You can’t help but be charmed by Indianara’s personality. She’s up-front about every aspect of her life, at one point she walks the streets pointing out where she had sex with her clients, “I’ve had sex all over this city” she states in a matter-of-fact manner. 

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To so many LGBTQ+ people in the Brazilian city, Indianara represents hope. Hope for a better society that accepts them and doesn’t treat them as second-class citizens. “What do you know about oppression?” Indianara declares at a rally for the city’s Socialist Party. “Your Mother’s Comfort” helps us see the oppressions and challenges that Indianara and her Nem House have to encounter throughout the course of 2016-2019, with the threat and the rise of Right Wing Extremist Jair Bolsonaro occurring. 

If you thought Donald Trump was an utter piece of sh*t then you haven’t seen nothing yet. There are moments where I found myself gasping out loud in shock at the statements Bolsonaro says nonchalantly about the LGBTQ+ community, (things I shall not repeat here) and it left me shaking with rage. At times, the documentary is very difficult to watch and I suspect that if you aren’t moved to tears then you may not be human. 

“You can’t help but be charmed by Indianara’s personality. She’s up-front about every aspect of her life, at one point she walks the streets pointing out where she had sex with her clients, “I’ve had sex all over this city” she states in a matter-of-fact manner.”

When it comes to the presidential election results and we see the community of Nem House reacting, with one person stating very calmly “With Bolsonaro you don’t know if you’ll be alive tomorrow”. When we remember that in March 2018 city councilwoman Marielle Franco was murdered (her killers have never been brought to justice), we know that this isn’t an overreaction.

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But, Indianara holds onto hope, she’s overcome the AIDs crisis, economic recessions and has been fighting against prejudice all her life. During the course of 2018-19 the City tries to evict Nem House (deeming it a squat) but Indianara remains defiant and continues to fight, “Nem House only ends when I have to leave the country or die” she states at one point. 

Life has been tough for her and as a result she’s become this hard, no bullsh*t person who has overcome living in an abusive household as a child, and then becoming a sex -worker at the age of 16. Indianara, like so many LGBTQ+ people of Rio De Janeiro has had to fight all of her life for equality and respect.

““Your Mother’s Comfort” helps us see the oppressions and challenges that Indianara and her Nem House have to encounter.”

She even takes on the same Socialist Party she ran for when they won’t allow her to campaign in 2018, she believes they simply used her to make themselves look virtuous. Indianara can be extreme at times, stating that universities should be torn down as they represent the patriarchy and she isn’t afraid to tell it to you straight about what she believes in exactly. 

However, when her supporters move into the abandoned palace in order to claim it as the new Nem House, we can’t help but cheer her on. Rio De Janeiro has many homeless people, and there are many buildings lying empty, rotting away. A tense four day stand-off with the police take place, where at one point they prevent food and water coming in. Again, we are reminded just how corrupt the law and order system of the city is. Protect and serve but only for the elite few. 

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At times, there’s so much going on that it’s a little difficult to follow all of the developments and with the fly-on-the-wall approach to filmmaking, there are very few traditional talking head style interviews which feels a little bit of a shame. The documentary is rather short in terms of runtime, and there’s so much more that I wished had been explored in further depth or explained.

However, like the woman herself, it’s hard not to fall in love with “Your Mother’s Comfort”. I always take that as the sign of a good documentary, that you fall in love with the subject and the subject matter and want to see more of them. A wonderful eye-opening documentary that I hope people seek out.

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