An extraordinary documentary about a troubled Brooklyn family, the result of filmmaker Jennifer Dworkin's five years with 40-year-old Diane Hazzard and her six kids, all of whom were put in foster care when Diane was discovered abusing crack and convicted of neglect. The ensuing six-year separation was particularly hard on Love, Diane's second oldest; wracked with guilt for having told a teacher about her mother's drug problem, Love ran away from a series of foster families before being placed in a group home. Dworkin began shooting two years after Love and her younger brother and sisters were returned to Diane, who wasn't quite ready to put her family back together. Love wound up living on the streets, sometimes earning money as a stripper, and even attempted suicide. Now 18 and once again living with her mother, Love has just given birth to a baby boy, Donyeah. Both mother and child are HIV positive, and Donyeah's HIV status qualifies the family for a rent subsidy that lets them relocate to a much larger apartment in Flatbush. The change makes a world of difference to Diane, who's determined to make something of her life. But all's not well with Love: Still angry at her mother and herself for tearing the family apart, and prone to depression and outbursts of anger, Love leaves it to Diane to make sure Donyeah is changed and fed. Diane's private doubts about Love's maternal instincts are replaced by a public inquiry into Love's suitability as a mother after Love has an explosive argument with her sister, Tootie. Diane tells her therapist about Love's state of mind and, with all the inexorability of history repeating itself, Love loses her child to foster care and must fight to get him back. Meanwhile Diane, who's spent much of her life on public assistance, embarks on a journey of her own. Armed with startling insight into her own past and an unshakable determination to leave it behind, she signs up for a welfare-to-work program. This important, psychologically rich film not only overturns the ugly stereotype of the welfare mother with no ambition and plenty of children, but also avoids blindly condemning New York State's much-maligned child welfare system. Diane and her family are so locked into the "system" that every new development carries potentially dire consequences, and Dworkin shows the system's imperfections. But she also shines a spotlight on tireless lawyers and loving foster parents determined to make it work, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: NR
- Review: An extraordinary documentary about a troubled Brooklyn family, the result of filmmaker Jennifer Dworkin's five years with 40-year-old Diane Hazzard and her six kids, all of whom were put in foster care when Diane was discovered abusing crack and convicted… (more)