Your Mum and Dad

Your Mum and Dad BBC Four - a Film by Klaartje Quirijns

A universal tale for everyone who wonders how to deal with family, secrets, and life itself. 

‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to but they do. They fill you with the faults they had and add some extra, just for you.’ 

Inspired by Philip Larkin’s poem ‘This be the Verse’,  is an exploration of the powerful dynamics of family relationships and the way they shape our lives. 

In Czechoslovakia before the upheaval of World War Two, Michael Moskowitz’s mother left home at seventeen without knowing if she would ever see her family again. What followed was a lifetime of trauma and dislocation for both her and her son. Allowed into the inner sanctum of the therapy room, filmmaker Klaartje Quirijns follows Moskowitz’s work with a New York-based therapist named Kirkland Vaughans. After 17 years of documenting one man’s struggle to heal from a generational wound, Quirijns turns the camera on herself to reveal her own family’s devastating trauma.

Vaughans – one the few African-American Freudian therapists in the United States – guides us through the complex workings of the mind, showing how easily we can be “colonised” by the behaviour of our parents. But in explaining these recurring patterns, he can’t help but be drawn into exploring his own painful past as well.

Using a wealth of home movies and archival images – as well as taped therapy sessions – YOUR MUM AND DAD explores recurring behavioural themes and raises individual cases into a universal pattern of experience. These stories enter the minds of the viewers and provide a mirror with which they can see the pain and triumphs of their own lives…

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“A real family is way more complex”

“A daring audacious film”

“An extremely personal film”

NRC Dutch Quality Paper ★★★★✩

“Fascinating, complex”

“With holding one’s breath, one can observe how Quirijns takes on different roles: as a mother, a daughter, a therapist and filmmaker”

“Beautiful use of archive footage”

“The film is as a therapy session, and that through insight and understanding, change is possible”

TROUW ★★★★✩

ATV Today

MyMovies Syndicated Trailer


3-star review by Ben Thomas

Close-up Film

Liquid Marmalade

Battle Royale With Cheese

Now Then Magazine

Total Film – 4-star review

Klaartje Quirijns Interview

Film Hounds

Klaartje Quirijns and Michael Moskowitz interviews:


Mention of Your Mum And Dad in a round-up of cinema releases of the week

Screen Daily

The Jewish Chronicle
The Times Twitter – 24.4K Followers

The Times Online 

“Beautifully constructed and put together. Illustrates so well how grief is carried with us unless it is processed. Covers attachment issues and trans generational trauma as well as the importance of therapy to safely dig into deep multi layered wounds that unless processed get carried from one generation to the next.”
Therapist / campaigner on grief Jane Harris, The Good Grief Project

Your Mum And Dad: A Devastating Truth (★★★★✩) is another documentary, and takes Philip Larkin’s famous poem This Be The Verse, about parents ‘mucking’ you up, as its starting point.
Dutch filmmaker Klaartje Quirijns then intersperses the story of a long-ago tragedy in her own family with that of her friend Michael Moskowitz, whose Czech-born Jewish mother took out the pain of losing her own parents in the Holocaust on him. It’s searing stuff. (Brian Viner)
The Daily Mail – Weekend Magazine

There are moments, however, such as when we meet Kees, older and pained, that are deeply wounding. The director has a good handle on the types of questions people ask about the past, the love we received or didn’t receive and the world we were protected from or thrown head-first into. The documentary is described by Vaughans, reflectively, as a process of 50-years culminating in the film, and it is brimmed with decades of experiences. 
Ben Thomas, Close-up Film

It’s a painful probing of a psychological wound in her parents’ lives: the death of Quirijns’s elder sister in a drowning accident. That undoubtedly contributed to the disintegration of their marriage and is something which her elderly parents have never talked about until now: she makes them open up to her about it, on camera.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian 

This beautiful film takes us into the heart of why psychoanalysis matters: because all of us have stories that need to be told with compassion and complexity. The film tells us a number of such stories that were for too long buried in the hearts of their fascinating participants and shows us the process by which difficult truths are uncovered – and eventually can heal. A film as wise as it is kind; not least, it is extremely visually beguiling as well.
Alain de Botton (writer/philosopher)

The film is a dream – pleasant and painful and seeming to float out of time. It contains the terrible confusion of childhood, as well as the wonderment and the fear, and the bottomless pain of adulthood. And there is no escape; you just have to face it. As a result – unforgivably – it forces you to think about yourself. Perhaps that is the point of all good films. Quirijns has given us a gift and I was not the same after I finished watching it. I’m not sure I ever will be.
Sebastian Junger (writer of The Perfect Storm and director of Restrepo)

I haven’t been able to sleep after finishing watching YOUR MUM AND DAD. It is EXTRAORDINARY. Poignant, fearless, ‘reckless’, brave, important and Klaartje Quirijns has given me something so invaluable. She has shown me that in the midst of trauma how important it is to say we are big enough to talk about this, we are big enough to acknowledge and share our pain in the room …
Abi Morgan (playwright/screenwriter)

Beautiful and moving – a family story that is both unique and universal.
Simon Kuper (Financial Times)