EARTH MAMA / Feature Film / Sundance 2023
Director: Savanah Leaf
Producers: Cody Ryder, Shirley O'Connor, Medb Riordan, Sam Bisbee, Savanah Leaf
Casting directors: Abby Harri, Geraldine Baron, Salome Oggenfuss
Gia is a young mother fighting for her children. Her son and daughter are in foster care, and now her unborn child could also be taken away. Struggling to work enough hours with court-mandated classes, she’s barely making ends meet. Gia loves her children unconditionally, but how will she give them the future they deserve?
Savanah Leaf’s directorial feature debut is an intimate depiction of a mother’s fear and love. Leaf’s elegant visual language interjects lush visions of hope and visceral manifestations of Gia’s deepest fears into her everyday life. Moving performances root the film in authenticity, including that of newcomer Tia Nomore, whose Gia is tender, conflicted, and layered. The warm texture of the film envelops us in Gia’s reality, while a knowing score smiles at the beauty of everyday moments.
Between the backdrops of Gia’s counseling classes and portrait studio job, Leaf crafts a story that redefines perspectives and asks us to bear witness — to vulnerability and the desire to be seen. Leaf’s permeating vision brings fullness and complexity to Gia, reclaiming her humanity and honoring the different forms love can take. -Sundance Film Festival
CRITICAL PRAISE for EARTH MAMA
"Learn the names Savanah Leaf, first-time feature filmmaker, and Tia Nomore, first-time feature actress, right now, because their debut film “Earth Mama” is a shimmering stunner... What sounds, on paper, like a challenging sit is actually a wondrous 97-minute feature, whose director and star are obviously poised for greatness." — Ryan Lattanzio, Indiewire
"The first narrative feature by Olympic volleyball player Savanah Leaf is a delicate stunner about a pregnant mother trying to regain custody of her kids. With an arresting lead performance by Tia Nomore as photographer’s assistant Gia, Leaf digs into the familiar landscape of a Black mother facing an oppressive legal system and pulls from it the most unexpected and humanizing details. This is a quiet film, but one that never once loosens its grip, using an intimate register to speak to the characters instead of about them. — Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, The 15 Best Films of Sundance 2023