Giving birth and the start of a new life are things that are celebrated around the world. Many girls dream of becoming a mother from childhood, and society shines a light on the happiness and excitement that come along with that journey. However, what often remains unspoken are the postpartum side effects that come along with this journey. In the United States alone, approximately 70% to 80% of women will experience, at a minimum, the ‘baby blues’. Many of these women will experience the more severe condition of postpartum depression or a related condition. The reported rate of clinical postpartum depression among new mothers is between 10% to 20%. One recent study found that 1 in 7 women may experience PPD in the year after giving birth. With approximately 4 million live births occurring each year in the United States, this equates to almost 600,000 postpartum depression diagnoses. On top of this, it is sadly believed that postpartum depression is much more common than these statistics reveal. Some medical experts believe that the rate of postpartum depression could be at least twice as much than what is actually reported and diagnosed.
Despite these staggering statistics, there still seems to be a bit of a taboo speaking of PPD or admitting you are suffering from it. However, Filmmaker Irina Terletskaya aims to break that stigma with her new film The Morgenstein Family. Terletskaya’s latest film, which she both wrote and directed, tackles the issue of Postpartum Depression head on.
Hailing from Russia and Ukraine, Terletskaya has since relocated to Los Angeles and taken notice of how many women in each country have suffered from depression after giving birth. She wanted to write a script that showed audiences what can happen if you close yourself off and neglect to work out these issues with a therapist. The film follows a young mother who is suffering from PPD after giving birth, and goes down the dark path of what can happen if you do not seek professional help.
“I created a very cruel end to this story to show what can happen to the person if he/she doesn't work on himself/herself and what that stress can lead to,” said Terletskaya.
Terletskaya has ample experience in the film industry. Starting as a makeup artist in Moscow, getting into acting, then producing, and now working as a screenwriter and director, she has a keen eye on all aspects of filmmaking and knows how to make a great movie that tells a captivating and moving story.
“After my first movie I started to feel certain that I had found my calling. I understood that experience in so many fields gave me confidence as a director. I think you can see that confidence in this film,” she said.
As a writer, she has greatly impressed seasoned professionals in the industry, including her mentor, award-winning sitcom writer John Donley (The Jeffersons, Good Times, Who’s The Boss).
“I believe that it is Irina‘s unique approach to writing that separates her from the average writer. Rather than being overly concerned with technique, Irene relies up on her own intuition to guide her creativity. In other words, she listens to the voices of the characters speaking within her, and what she finally writes on paper reveals characters who speak words that reveal their essence, their values, their desires, their challenges and their conflicts, all of which is universally comprehensive and often touching,” said Donley.
One very distinctive call Terletskaya made as Director was having each scene be one single shot. She wanted to make it feel more real, drawing the audience into the rawness and emotion in the story. Working closely with her cinematographer Pavel Yatsenko, they created a true visual masterpiece.
“I believed in my dream a lot. I had a small budget for this movie and I offered this idea to my producer Alina Smolyar and she did an amazing job. I am grateful to everyone who worked on it,” said Terletskaya.
The Morgenstein Family has been submitted to many upcoming festivals for 2021, but it has yet to premiere. Be sure to keep an eye out for it, not just for the inevitable accolades it will receive as a film, but for its impactful and important script.
“I wanted to show a real story. And if I can change someone's life for the better, I'll be very happy,” Terletskaya concluded.