Directed by: Peter Kerekes
Winner of Best Screenplay in Venice’s 2021 Horizons program, the latest from Slovak documentarian Peter Kerekes (whose 66 Seasons played EUFF 2004) is a poignant docufiction hybrid that glimpses the difficult lives of imprisoned new mothers in southern Ukraine. Set in an Odessa women’s correctional facility, 107 Mothers takes as its factual premise the abbreviated window for incarcerated mothers to care for and bond with their children; when a child turns three, they are transferred to another guardian or, more commonly, to a state-run orphanage. This heartrending countdown propels Kerekes’s penetrating film, which follows new inmate Lesya (Maryna Klimova), sentenced to seven years for murdering her newborn’s father, as she navigates first-time motherhood behind bars. The work’s highly mannered aesthetic belies its real-life subjects, who appear in the film as versions of themselves and whose stories inform the stirring narrative. 107 Mothers was Slovakia’s official submission to last year’s Oscars.
“An unusual and rewarding docufiction feature woven from the firsthand stories of Odessa prisoners, executed with a blend of close-to-the-bone realism and heightened formal refinement.”
Guy Lodge, Variety