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Mothers and daughters in migration

This documentary is a colourful kaleidoscope. Interviews alternate with glimpses of the lives of immigrant mothers and daughters from various cultures. Caught in the stormy period of puberty, the young women navigate between changing values, migration making the generation gap worse.

SPAGAT is a subtle report on young immigrant women's struggle for self-determination. Trying not to upset the delicate balance, the girls move with seeming ease between their new environment and their families, whose structures are inscribed by the parents' ethical values and religious traditions.

With surprising and touching frankness, the mothers and daughters portrayed in SPAGAT discuss educational methods, sex education, sexuality, and their wishes and concerns for the future. The living conditions and migratory backgrounds are very varied, ranging from the immigrant housewife married to a Swiss man, the  divorced refugee woman who obtains new qualifications, although she does not know whether she will be able to stay here, to the shop owner having double work shifts and the barmaid feeling very much at home in Switzerland. The portrayed girls range from the 14 old pupil to the 21 old unemployed But when their parents' traditions or religious background fail to give the young women any scope in very personal issues, the girls' delicate balancing acts become more painful. For example when parents forbid their daughter to play her favourite sport, or when they insist on choosing her husband. Towards the end of the film, three young adult women from Somalia, Sri Lanka and Kosovo discuss these issues, exploring all aspects quite freely and controversially.

SPAGAT avoids clichés and does not idealize nor dramatize. It is touching and full of humour. The viewer is caught in the tensions and conflicts of puberty – as a parent or daughter.

This documentary is intended as an awareness-raising tool for institutions involved with issues of migration, adolescence and gender, as well as for schools, or community and youth centres.

Duration: 20 minutes.

*) [Translator's Note:] Spagat is the German word for the split; it could also be read as a metaphor for a very delicate and sometimes painful balancing act.

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