Sole Custudy

Drama, Short, In Development
In Association with KNOT FILMS

DIRECTOR: Karen Sztajnberg

PRODUCER: Jordi Wijnalda

DIR. OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Freek Zonderland

MAIN CAST: Marcelo Valle, Susana Ribeiro


Sandro lands in a small town in Europe to convince the mother of his child, whom he has raised alone, to come back to Brazil and help the girl transition into puberty. Accepting Sandro's proposition means forfeiting on the income Lila provides for the three of them. A nuclear post-family in the throes of macro and micropolitics.


SOLE CUSTODY hinges around one main theme which is couched on a very specific context.


A father abandoning his children in the name of whatever cause is a prolific story we know too well. This fiction short film ponders: is it possible to avoid pathologizing the mother who does the same in 2018?I consider this theme a pressing one today as we set out to reconsider notions of what constitutes family, gender roles, parity and female normalcy. Are we ready to extend to women the same level of understanding enjoyed by men who, sensing their co-parent a capable caretaker, gave themselves permission to pursue individual life projects elsewhere? This film presents a narrative that will give the audiences a chance to actively engage with these questions, and test the limits of such scenarios as we ponder the complexities of choosing between what’s best for the family and what’s best for oneself.


The context of SOLE CUSTODY is a Brazilian couple where the father travels abroad to try and convince his daughter’s mother to come back and be participant as their kid enters teenagehood. In addressing parental micropolitics within this family, I will also present the hardship of widespread economic migration as we see it today, an odd bargain where newcomers trade homeland problems for immigrant problems. We will follow this post-couple as they negotiate between fair and responsible choices.  While the mother finds herself in a self-imposed exile and uprooted, the father copes with the pros and cons of staying homebound.


I believe there is a current deficit of stories that present capable single fathers doing a great job. At present we are seeing so much of this industry upended by an avalanche of empowered men behaving poorly, it becomes paramount to present better models based on men of sturdy behavioral constitution. It is equally important to me to foster stories where post-marital couples have to negotiate the welfare of a child from a non-antagonistic, empathic framework. The villain vs. hero dyads will no longer do as they once did in films like Kramer vs. Kramer. Gendered parenting roles have become far more nuanced since then, and this deserves to be reflected onscreen.


Lastly, I also hope to address the subjective toll that immigration takes on capable professionals, who will continue to live their lives in a state of unbelonging.


SOLE CUSTODY brings together many facets along a simple and universal story line: two individuals have to negotiate and resolve a conflict which stacks their individual interests against each other. The destiny of a child hangs in the balance.