Venice 78: "107 Mothers" Review
The Borscht Redemption
It’s really difficult to draw a line between the fictional scenes and the documentary ones in 107 Mothers. Peter Keres presents a docufiction exploring a distant reality, the one in the Odessa female penitentiary, with its the daily struggles- and occasional bittersweet glimpses of hope.
Victims and yet perpetrators, the secluded protagonists are all murders: crimes of passion is the verdict. Their impulses are curbed by the prison life, and their lives find a new meaning with the birth of their children. The newborns are the only things the mothers have left, and by feeding them, playing with them in the courtyard sandlot, and preparing them rudimentary birthday cakes as the years pass by, they shape a new optimistic lifestyle.
However, giving birth behind bars entails its challenges. The forced separation from their babies soon becomes the true punishment of their sentence, much more than the loss of their freedom, and once more the mothers are deprived of their femininity.
After all, it doesn’t matter what is fictional: this ordinary tales might just as well have happened countless times.