MY UNDERGROUND MOTHER is a gripping, first-person narrative about a daughter hungering for reconciliation with a mother who claimed she wasn’t a Holocaust victim. The film yields startling, new information about Nazi-run women’s camps and the sexual trauma and agency its survivors experienced and hid from their own families.
My Underground Mother, a feature-length documentary, explores the tenacity, unspoken trauma and resilience of women survivors of Nazi slave labor, focusing on Jewish, Polish native, Tamar-Fromer Fox. After the war and a stint spent fighting in the Israeli underground and army, she immigrated to the United States, changed her name and age, and kept her World War II experiences a secret. As she moved through American life, from college to medical school to matrimony and motherhood, Fromer-Fox chipped away more of her past. To her American peers and family, she presented herself as a former freedom fighter, a femme fatale, a double agent and Israeli military hero. “I was never a Holocaust victim,” she repeatedly told her only daughter.
Twenty years after Fromer-Fox’s death, her daughter, director Marisa Fox, sets out to discover the truth, following a trail of clues to find the last remaining traces of her buried Holocaust past. At the center of the film is a remarkable document, a collective diary written by 60 teenage inmates of Nazi-run women’s camp Gabersdorf. In an intergenerational reclaiming of a women’s Holocaust narrative, My Underground Mother challenges longstanding tropes of female victimhood, reframing this history to include and humanize women survivors.
A veteran journalist, Marisa Fox has reported on 9/11 to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, focusing on women, war, trauma, extremism and refugees for The Daily Beast, Elle, CNN, The New York Times, Health, Ms., Ha’aretz, where she was a U.S. correspondent, The Forward, and is a “she source” for Gloria Steinem’s Women’s Media Center. She was a producer at WNET, Vh1 and FX, and earned American Society of Magazine Editors awards and nominations, won pitch competitions, a humanitarian award for a women’s Holocaust monument she unveiled in Trutnov, Czech Republic, and curated a digital exhibit of women’s testimonies with USC’s Shoah Foundation. Fox holds an MS and BS from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, winning a National Journalism Society Award, and a Bachelor’s of Arts in French. She is a 2022 Jewish Film Institute fellow and received grants by the Claims Conference, National Endowment for the Humanities and others for her directorial debut.
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Director of Photography