Locarno review: Mother Prays All Day Long (2022)

Courtesy of Locarno Film Festival

The title Mother Prays All Day Long is definitely misleading, since we do not see any of the mothers praying in Hoda Taheri’s short docu-fiction / auto-fiction hybrid about two young women and their mothers. Hoda Taheri has a couple of shorts under her belt.

The “plot” of Mother Prays All Day Long is relatively simple: two young women, one Persian immigrant and one German native, are in a relationship, but both of them have their personal “baggage” and agenda. Hoda needs to get married to stay in the country, while Magdalena carries another person’s baby, which she hides from her girlfriend. In conversations over Skype (or some such) and live, their mothers state their ideas, concerns and advices to their daughters. Can the young women make their relationship and the potential marriage work?

If it was not so artful in mixing the elements of the fiction and the documentary cinema (of the observational sort) by employing long takes from fixed position until the dynamic, animated finale, Mother Prays All Day Long could be classified as a piece of erotic cinema. Except for the central bathroom scene with waxing, pot-smoking and conversations about the painful experience of having an illegal abortion in Teheran, they mostly spend their time together naked, having sex or just lying on the bed.

There is a degree of bravery to it, since the cast actually consists of Taheri, her co-writer Magdalena Jacob and their mothers. Shot observantly and edited patiently by Jonathan Steil and containing a strong animated scene done by Juan Rmzv that serves as a point of sorts, Mother Prays All Day Long is one of the most tasteful and most life-like erotic films of recent time.

Courtesy of Locarno Film Festival

Original title: Madar tamame rooz doa mikhanad
Year: 2022
Runtime: 23’ 50’’
Country: Germany
Languages: English, Farsi, German
Directed by: Hoda Taheri
Written by: Hoda Taheri, Magdalena Jacob
Cast: Hoda Taheri, Magdalena Jacob, Gabriele Barth, Jahandokht Safarian
Cinematography by: Jonathan Steil
Editing by: Jonathan Steil
Sound design by: Jonathan Steil
Sound recording by: Constance Lewandowski, Juan Rmzv
Animation by: Juan Rmzv
Colourist: Meg Tomeo
Produced by: Boris Hadžija
Production company: Ava Film