The Story of Mothers and Daughters – About the film & Trailer


From cradle to grave, from blissful to brutal, the mother-daughter bond is revealed at the ultimate and quintessential moments along the life-long mother-daughter journey,  featuring 40 diverse American women of every age, race, and experience. 

 “… perfect …”  Oprah Winfrey


DVD purchase:

 To see excerpts from the film, click here.


The Story of Mothers and Daughters

Produced and Directed by Catherine Ryan, Gary Weimberg, Judith Leonard
72 min. (feature length version—45 minute classroom version also available)
(no subtitles, no close captioning – sorry!)

Downloadable one page promo info sheet

Minute by minute, we see a series of moving individual mother/daughter stories; yet by the end, the cumulative effect reveals a universal mother-daughter story that is true for us all: the cycle of life, a repeating pattern of comings together and drawings apart; the union of pregnancy followed by the separation of birth; the sweet closeness of childhood to the stormy estrangement of adolescence; the reconciliation and sharing during adulthood yielding to aging, passing away and eventually to the renewal of the coming of next generation.


  • CINE Golden Eagle
  • Bronze Apple from the National Educational Media Network
  • Silver Hugo from Chicago International Television Festival
  • Chris Award from the Columbus International Film & Video Festival
  • Included in Best Films of the last 30 years  at the 30th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival

Press and Academic Praise:

 “A miraculous, perfect little film … you owe it to yourself to see it.”– Eric Mink, New York Daily NewsClick here to read more >>
 Alexandra Todd, Professor of SociologySuffolk University  “A very important film that skillfully defines the overlooked but foundational mother-daughter bond.   A documentary which can be successfully used in any class which explores women’s lives, be it sociology, psychology, biography, or political science.”
 “Lovely…brims with insights, emotion, and honest tears. Try not to miss it…television at its best.”– Howard Rosenberg, LA TIMESClick here to read more >>
 Coretta Scott King  “A very important and long overdue film which so beautifully demonstrates the healing, creative power of a sacred bond. This film reminds us that mothers and daughters share a profound destiny, for we give birth to the future.”
 “Fothcoming and honest … from childbirth to death, each story is touching.”– Carole Horst, Variety MagazineClick here to read more >>
 Sue C Fisher, Professor of Sociology Wesleyan University  “Should be part of any gender studies curriculum. This film provides a breadth and depth that would illuminate any intellectual exploration of women’s reality, with a marvelous combination of sociological rigor and documentary storytelling.  I found myself both deeply moved and informed.”
   “Poignant and often painful…refreshingly free of Hallmark moments…”  Click here to read more >>
   “You will likely see no documentary anytime soon that will touch you as will The Story of Mothers and Daughters … what emerges is the rhythmic breathing of life itself…”  Click here to read  more>>
 “An intimacy sometimes hard to bear suffuses ‘The Story of Mothers & Daughters.’ … It seems nothing is off limits … The camera and the conversation goes full circle, from birth to death and back, and the good, bad and indifferent variations on the theme.”  Click here to read more >>
   “Skillfully produced and directed …  a fast trip through stages in a relationship fraught with exhilarating highs and devastating lows. But it’s one whose images and impact stay with you.” 
  “A superbly crafted production worthy of big screen play… All mothers and daughters should make a point of watching.”Click here to read more >>
  Oprah Winfrey   “This is the perfect gift for Mom!”

Personal Testimonials

“4 months ago I gave birth to my first child, a baby girl.  7 years ago, I lost my mother in an auto accident and I still mourn her. Your documentary helped me to put some things to rest, to clarify and understand others, and to take another step along the path of life, being grateful for the years I had her rather than regretting the years I don’t. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of art and human understanding.”Rachel Zulema

Your documentary, The Story of Mothers and Daughters, is fabulous.  I am pregnant with a girl and was at first anxious, then neutral about having a daughter.  Now I am excited!  Thank you for helping me realize how unique and special every mother daughter relationship is, even if it’s not perfect.  I’m buying two copies for new moms I know.  Thanks again.   –  Alisa Gray

“I bought this film as a mother’s day present for my mom and ending up watching it with her and my 3 sisters.  We laughed and cried and then talked late into the night about our own feelings.  It was wonderful, the best and most meaningful Mother’s Day we’ve ever had.  We plan on watching it every year as a family tradition.  Thank you for making this film.   –   Jeanette Syran

“I wanted to share with you how meaningful this film was to my family. My grandmother was terminally ill and living with us, very weak and very ill, but very aware of all that was going on around her. The hospice staff was surprised that she was hanging on.  All of us were having trouble talking about the end of this great woman’s life. On the night “Mothers and Daughters” was televised, all three generations watched it together – my grandmother, my mother, and I. So much of the video was right where we were living, and it was incredibly poignant for all of us. Afterwards, my mom was able to talk to her mother about her impending death for the first time.    Two days later, my grandmother passed away.  This film and its beauty and honesty made letting go a little easier for all of us.” Natalie Halliday

 I wanted to tell you. My daughter is 15 and we have had our moments in these “teen” years. During the film, she reached over and held my hand!  I can’t tell you how wonderful that was.     Thanks for sharing your film with us!!   – Carol Dreysse

I can’t tell you how wonderful the film is — or no, stop, that’s wrong — yes, I CAN tell you how wonderful it is.  I lost my mother in October of last year and she and I were the best, the very best of friends.  The film really moved me so much.  And yes, I cried (and paused the DVD several times) and cried some more.  I would have loved to have seen it with her — how truly special that would have been to have shared this with her.Thank you so much for making such an incredible film.  For mothers and daughters everywhere.  A tribute to them, in honor of them, in memory of them.   – Hunter

I just watched this documentary on PBS.  My relationship with my mother has always been complicated and tense.  Since becoming a mother myself I seem to have both more anger and more understanding regarding some of my mother’s decisions.  This film touched me deeply and I would love for my neighbor and dear friend to see it as well.  She is mourning the death of her mother.  As the anniversary of her mother’s death approaches — March 31st — we have been having many talks about both our experiences as mothers as well as our relationships with our own mothers.  I will be buying a copy of this film for her.  It is so powerful and so important.  My friend would really benefit from seeing it as well.  Thanks so much.” – Shelly Costa

“Thank you so much for making such a special film. I cried the whole way through. It touched me so much. I ran my boyfriend out of the room with my tears!  I’m going to watch it again and make him stay. maybe then he’ll start to understand…” – Michelle Swanson

“I was adopted.  I never knew my birth mother.  Then,  your DVD arrived in the mail in an unmarked package with no return address.  As I watched your program, somehowI became sure that it was a gift from my birth mom to me.  Even though there was no name on it,  I just feel so sure is was from her.  So your film actually changed my life.  Now, I believe that in some way, my birth mom is watching out for me.  She knows where I live, and for whatever reason, choose your DVD to communicate, at last, to me.  Thank you.”   – Anonymous

“Thanks for the beautiful web videos.  My daughter just recently gave birth to my first grandchild. Now that she is a mother of a beautiful daughter, we are celebrating four generations and sharing this documentary with my mother, daughter and granddaughter on Mother’s Day, it will be a gift to us all.    I cannot wait to see this film in it’s entirety.  Thank you for the honesty in presenting the complex relationships between mothers and daughters.” – Cassandra Wilson

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