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Dana Ben-Ari didn’t want to make her film an abstraction of the issues surrounding breast-feeding in our culture. Sure, she includes a few expert talking heads (Fiona Giles, Jack Newman, Bernice L. Hausman) but the focus in on the experiences of five women from diverse backgrounds experiencing the miracle, and sometimes heartbreak, of breast-feeding their infants in a society that isn’t always accommodating. Ben-Ari wanted to make a film that was personal and provocative, the which she has done with an expert aplomb.
In BREASTMILK we see fountains of milk spurting from breasts while Mozart plays triumphantly, and we hear a social commentator opine that a phallus is the male version of a lactating breast. Strong stuff in a film that celebrates women’s bodies while not omitting the vestiges of patriarchy that still oppress those bodies. It’s a documentary that is a provocative look at the biology, economics, and politics of breast feeding in modern day America. Following the experiences of five new mothers from diverse backgrounds, the pressures of guilt over the choice of breastfeeding versus formula, cultural constructs around secondary sexual characteristics, and family values in theory and practice in the real world bring home the often contradictory, often confusing attitudes we have about this most basic of human functions. Making its points gently but firmly, the film is honest without being exploitative, informative without being strident.
Forthright, witty, and committed, Ben-Ari discussed the irony of a culture obsessed with large breasts, but squeamish about lactation, the images she chose to use, taking back the idea of feminism, and why she wants this film to change the way we all look at the world.
For more information about where to see the movie, or to buy your own copy, click here .
Click on the link to listen to the interview (19:35) BREASTMILK — Dana Ben-Ari Interview.