Live From SXSW's Screening Room

MAMA/M.A.M.A.

D: Nonny de la Pena.

Documentary Feature Special Screenings, Regional Premiere When baby Philip was dying mysteriously in the hospital, a doctor offered the desperate mother his diagnosis: Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. In other words, her fault. After the baby died -- which we witness in gruesome, heartbreaking photos -- it took four years to exonerate the mother in the death of her own son, even though she wasn't allowed in the hospital as he died. MAMA tells these and other harrowing stories of Munchausen Syndrome, the medical term coined in 1977 to describe a mother responsible for her child's illness, often induced to garner sympathy for herself. In a series of damning interviews with Munchausen experts (the syndrome's founder says, at one point, "I'll answer the question if you turn that camera off"), cross-cut with the stories of women accused, we see the flimsy medical backing for the illness, which some Munchausen activists equate to witchcraft. It's a stunning film, but even at a grueling 100 minutes, it never seems as though we are getting the complete story -- or maybe the whole truth really is that painful. (Hideout, 3/13, 3pm)

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