Imagine a world where mothers were perfect, babies were served in cabbages and life was governed by photographic clicks. Welcome to the dystopian universe of Mothers and Monsters, a completely offbeat short film directed by Édith Jorisch, presented in Quebec premiere on Friday as part of the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

After exploring questions of identity (The Heir) then migration (Tibbits Hill), Édith Jorisch dives here into yet another existential subject: motherhood. Be careful, not as you might expect, but rather in a frankly surreal and satirical way, oscillating between lightness and heaviness, beauty and ugliness, to quite literally border on absurdity and horror.

No, she doesn’t have children, the young director immediately clarifies, who still has a lot of questions on the subject – “how to make the life of a female director coexist with children”, “how to exist as a mother, without it being solely through motherhood? » –, met at her home, a strange coincidence, just a few houses from where the author of these lines herself had her first baby. End of resemblance (thank goodness!).

To summarize: his story takes place here around a banquet, where seven elegant and smiling women are seated at the table. They take turns and joyfully receive a cabbage under a bell, in which a baby is hidden. All, except one, played here by a convincing Mylène Mackay, who will not say a word about the film, but whose eyes will say a lot.

It must be said that in this fifteen-minute satire, the children are also raised by nannies and literally fed video games. We won’t tell you anything, but you should know that the underground factory where these famous choux are made is much less chic. Oh yes, there is not the slightest dialogue either and the climate remains dark and uncomfortable from the beginning to almost the very end.

It was while reading Les entretranchées, by Fanny Britt, then an article in the New York Times (“Where Are All The Nannies on Instagram?”) that the original idea for this scenario was born, to say the least.

Who are these women raising other people’s children? Who knows their story? Where are they on social media?

In the universe imagined by Edith Jorisch, privileged women now have children effortlessly and without the slightest sacrifice. “Women privileged by their social class and their beauty do not need to carry their child, nor give birth, nor breastfeed”, summarizes the one who was here largely inspired by Instagram, as we will have understood , in its aesthetic, without leaving the slightest detail to chance.

After a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Mothers and Monsters was also selected in Vancouver (VIFF) and, to the great surprise of Edith Jorisch, in Sitges, Spain. “I never thought I was making a genre film,” she says, “my references are rather surreal and fantastic, but indeed, I was selected in Sitges, the biggest genre film festival! »

Her style, a very particular aesthetic, and a disturbing climate, the director deliberately leaving a certain uneasiness, are certainly not foreign to this. “I don’t answer every question. I don’t take the viewer by the hand. There are a lot of symbols and I leave it up to the viewer to decode,” she confirms.

And then Édith Jorisch doesn’t hide it: “I like to create works that can be destabilizing. This is the effect that the representation of mothers on social networks has on me. And what about authenticity in all of this? What is behind these spectacular displays? “. His answer: In the movie.