July 15th, 2008
Birth of a Surgeon
Video: Filmmaker Notes

Interview with Filmmakers Karin Falck and Loui Bernal about the making of Birth of a Surgeon.


KARIN FALCK: Hi! My name is Karin Falck and I’m the director of the documentary Birth of a Surgeon.

LOUI BERNAL: And my name is Loui Bernal. I am the Producer and D.O.P of this film.

KARIN FALCK: Why did we, a documentary film team from Sweden want to make a film about Emilia?

LOUI BERNAL: Living in Africa, on the other side of the planet, over 5000 miles away from our home.

KARIN FALCK: In 2005, it all started when I wanted to make a film about the Swedish midwife and why she plays such an important role in the delivery room. Two hundred years ago Sweden had the same situation as Mozambique has today – poverty and extreme high maternal mortality. Sweden is a country with vast rural areas, and, at that time we had few doctors. So to help the mothers the government established a training where the midwives learned to use instruments and how to work independently with no doctors present. These skilled midwives became the backbone in fighting maternal mortality. And today, Sweden is one of the safest countries in the world for mothers to give birth.

In my research, I met Dr. Staffan Bergström at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. And he told me how Mozambique is starting a unique education for midwives now. And compared to Sweden they are taking it even further — educating midwives in advanced surgery! Staffan also told me about Emilia Cumbane, one of the women attending this education. I thought, this was intriguing news from Africa! This is a story worth telling!

LOUI BERNAL: Our research and planning started three years ago. We developed the idea within an international training program called Discovery Campus Masterschool. A year later we went to Mozambique for the first time.

KARIN FALCK: Dr. Staffan Bergström helped us, giving us advice and he even traveled with us to Mozambique. And with no financing, the trip was rather adventurous.

We saw Emilia performing her very first Caesarian section. We had been told no broadcaster would ever be interested in a film like this about poor women in Africa. But the images we came back with changed people’s minds.

LOUI BERNAL: My strongest memory is from the Manjacaze hospital. The health staff workers there under such poor conditions but performed so well.

KARIN FALCK: This education will change many things in Mozambique, maybe not only the maternity care. Many times along the way, I many times doubted we would make this film. And without support from Peter Symes at Discover Campus Masterschool, or Dr. Staffan Bergström and Dr. Fernando Vaz in Maputo – it wouldn’t have been possible! Thank you very much! This film is an expression of love to Emilia and all people working by her side with very scarce resources!

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