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Apart 2020

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Women Make Movies, 115 W. 29th Street, Suite 1200,New York, NY, 10001; 212-925-0606
Produced by Tim Metzger
Directed by Jennifer Redfearn
Streaming, 86 mins

High School - General Adult
Corrections; Family Relations; Prisons

Date Entered: 09/14/2022

Reviewed by Rachael Dreyer, Head of Research Services for Special Collections, Pennsylvania State University

Apart depicts the deep rift that incarcerated mothers experience - in their identities as women, mothers, and members of society, but also the severed connections with their children that ripple throughout communities. The anguish of the mothers in the documentary paired against the anger of their children over their mothers’ absences throws into high relief the societal need for reparative and restorative programs for incarcerated people. If mothers are forced to live apart from their families as penance for their crimes (most of the crimes that are shared are related to drug addiction or drug trafficking), then our penal system needs to ensure that it truly rehabilitates those incarcerated--rather than punitively removing mothers from their families, homes, and communities. The crux of the documentary focuses on the difficulties or re-entry, of a punitive justice system, and a reliance on mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, as well as an unwillingness of the system to believe or accept that rehabilitation is possible. It is clear that the women included in the film are working hard to make reparations for their offenses, which leads the viewer to question whether society is willing to welcome them home and truly forgive. The impact on families affected by mass incarceration is clear - no one wins: not children, their parents, nor the state.

Accessible for general audiences, the film skillfully crafts portraits of incarcerated mothers as complex, multi-layered, and loving parents who are committed to the lifelong work of repairing relationships with their children and loved ones.

People's Choice Award, Zonta Film Festival

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.