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Family Foibles (ATOM Study Guide)

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We all come from a family of some description. We all need to belong in some way. But what is it that we belong to? Today, families come in all shapes, sizes and combinations, as people in all walks of life adjust to, experiment with and incorporate into 'family' the complex web of relationships in which they find themselves entangled.
Family Foibles is a series of five half-hour documentaries that examine contemporary Australian families. Each story revolves around a family confronting a problem(s). These range from the relatively benign issue of omission in the telling of a family history, to domestic violence and the fitness of parents to look after their children.
The series is challenging to watch at times. It is entertaining as well. It should engage viewers because of the diversity of subjects and because of the intimate nature of each story. The film-makers' methods range from strictly observational (fly on the wall) to the actively involved participant (daughter).
The characters in these films are variously searching for their identity within their family ('The Woodcutter's Son'), discovering a hidden family history ('Mick's Gift'), struggling to hold a family together ('Kim and Harley and the Kids'), attempting a novel response to separation ('Upstairs Downstairs'), or attempting to break from entrenched custom ('My Mother Nancy'). In doing this, the participants encounter varying degrees of resistance, conflict and heartbreak. Some achieve more satisfying understandings of their family.

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These documentaries are not suitable for the junior or middle years. The material contained in these documentaries could be confronting and upsetting to viewers (particularly students from divorced or abusive families). The content is relevant to
V.C.E. level SOSE, Human Development, English, Media Studies and Psychology. At tertiary level, it is suitable for Counseling, Social Work, Sociology, Psychology and Media Studies.


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