My Mother's Early Lovers

103 Minutes, 35mm, Color and B/W (1998)
Produced, directed, co-written and edited by Nora Jacobson, based on a story by Sybil Smith.
Executive Producers: Bill and Jane Stetson


A young woman explores her mother's past and uncovers a secret at the heart of her family's history. Based on an autobiographical memoir, the film suggests that the truth--no matter how painful--provides a path to redemption.

Director's Statement

My film is based on a real diary that co-writer Sybil Smith found. It was written by her mother, before she was a mother, when she was a very young woman. What attracted me to this story was that it addresses the fascinating question of every child's origin. How do families come to be? The thought of family dynasties resting on a chance encounter some distant time in the past makes my mind reel. We are taught that we determine our own destiny, and yet we have no control over the past events that brought us to life, that shaped our personality. For better or worse we are stuck with our families. And those family ties are some of the strongest we will every have. I wanted to make a film that illustrates the complexity of family dynamics and the inexplicable link between love and violence. I wanted to look honestly and realistically at the human journey, showing its path of humor, sorrow, anger, pain, love and daily routine.


  • 1st Prize, Jury Award, Film Fest New Haven
  • Audience Award, Maine Int'l Film Festival
  • Best Independent Film, Ajijic Int'l Film Festival (Mexico)
  • Finalist, Austin Film Festival

Other festivals include:

Method Fest Film Festival, Sonoma Valley Film Festival, Rhode Island International Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival, and Slamdunk.

Production Notes

When filmmaker Nora Jacobson read Vermont author Sybil Smith's semi-autobiographical novella, she found a rich, evocative story about the complexity of family relationships. Smith's story is based on her own deceased mother's diaries and letters. Together, Jacobson and Smith forged a screenplay from the work. Jane and Bill Stetson, a Vermont-based fundraising couple, took interest in the project and became Executive Producers. The budget was raised locally through investors and grants. A vast grass- roots organization of dedicated local volunteers soon grew around Jacobson's Off The Grid Productions. Additional support came from Vermont businesses donating products and services. Shot on Super-16 , Jacobson spent close to a year editing the feature length film. Successfully interweaving the 2 stories--the present photographed in color, the past in black and white-- she edited them so that each one comments on the other. Neither stands alone; they are interdependent tales.

Blu-ray: $24 (including shipping and handling)

DVD: $20 plus $3 s/h

Digital Download: $8 We will send you via email a private link for your digital download. As the link to download the film is not generated automatically. It may take us a few hours to send you your link. Thank you for your patience.

Comments and Reviews

“Has the feel of a big, uncompromising family novel...”
John Sayles

“Its a wonderful film...subtle, thoughtful, funny...”
National Public Radio

“As for sheer sex appeal--when George Woodard and Rusty Dewees appear on screen, they make Brad Pitt just a blow-dry memory.”
Herald of Randolph

“A family drama of unusual quality” Burlington Free Press “A potent drama...profoundly of the year’s best films...”
Stephen Bissette