Cenzorka (107 Mothers). 2021. Slovakia/Czech Republic/Ukraine. Directed by Peter Kerekes. Screenplay by Kerekes. New York premiere. In Russian, Ukrainian; English subtitles. 93 min.
In Odessa Correctional Facility Number 74, children born in the prison may remain in the care of their incarcerated mothers—but only until the age of three. In making this docudrama (Slovakia’s 2021 Academy Award submission), director Peter Kerekes spent several years within the unusual matriarchy of a prison populated by female inmates, wardens, and children. Across striking interviews and dramatizations in which the women play versions of themselves, an astonishing collaboration emerges, depicting the stark reality of crime and punishment. 107 Mothers is a tribute to real-life women living out otherwise invisible days, its surprisingly painterly aura setting the stage for a complex study of female agency and motherhood. Within these prison walls, each day’s hopes and heartbreak expose the human toll of the law of the land. Winner of the Orizzonti Award for Best Screenplay, Venice Film Festival.