Kerekes’ film 107 Mothers had its world premiere in Venice, the second festival screening will be at Cinematik.
3. September 2021
As the only Slovak film, the feature film debut of the award-winning director Petr Kerekes 107 Mothers goes to the prestigious Venice Film Festival. It will have its world premiere in the Orizzonti competition section, dedicated to films that represent the latest aesthetic trends in foreign cinematography. 18 films from all over the world will compete for the prizes. On this occasion, the creators come with the first international trailer.
The Slovak audience will be able to see 107 Mothers for the first time during the grand opening of the Cinematik festival in Piešťany on September 14, 2021. Exactly one month later, from October 14, the film will go to Slovak cinemas thanks to Filmtopia.
“Of the many stories of women in the Odessa prison, I was most inspired by the story of Lesja, who killed her husband out of jealousy and came to prison already pregnant. The film begins with her birth, “says director Peter Kerekes. “When I learned that our film would be in Venice, I was most pleased with the idea of three women, the main characters, on the red carpet. Ljuba, according to whose story we made the film, Irina – a real warden in a women’s prison who plays herself and Marina – a young actress from Odessa. Three completely different women who are connected by our film,” he adds.
Peter Kerekes spent six years visiting and filming in a Ukrainian women’s prison. Most of the protagonists in the film play out their true story, but his film is not documentary this time.
Irina is a devoted supervisor in prison no. 74 in Odessa, where she guards more than a hundred prisoners. Lesja, sentenced to seven years for a crime of passion, is one of the new women coming to prison. She is pregnant with her first child. As Lesja gradually gets used to the rules of prison life, she also finds out that several of her fellow prisoners have suffered a similar fate. Mothers with small children are allowed to visit them once in a while in a separate part of the prison, which brings them a few moments of happiness. However, if the prisoner does not find a home for her child after the child’s third birthday, they will place the child in an orphanage, which is a tragedy for every mother and child, as well as a difficult routine for Irina, who is responsible for transferring children to social care. Locked up and with almost no one she could turn to in the outside world, Lesja must find a way to prevent her son from ending up in an orphanage.
“First of all, I’m happy that Peter Kerekes managed to make a great film in extreme production conditions. I am also pleased that many children from the prison nursery have in the meantime been “released”. And, of course, I’m pleased that Slovak cinema will get attention at the prestigious world festival, “says Ivan Ostrochovský, who is the producer and co-screenwriter of 107 Mothers.
On the red carpet in Venice, a large delegation led by the director will visit the film in person. In the end, only two of the mentioned women will present the film in front of an international festival audience, Marina Klimova, a professional Ukrainian actress in the lead role, and Irina Kiryazeva, a real prison warden. Ljuba, who has meanwhile been released, will not visit Venice because she is expecting her second child, which she will give birth to this month. The delegation will also include producer Ivan Ostrochovský, cinematographer Martin Kollar, editors Martin Piga and Ernst Thomas, executive producers Katarína Tomková and Albert Malinovský, Czech co-producer Jiří Konečný, Ukrainian co-producer Denis Ivanov. After Venice, Censorka is heading to another renowned film festival in San Sebastian, which takes place from 17 to 25 September 2021.
During the making, the film won the Works in Progress awards at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2017 and a year later won as the Best Project at the Odessa IFF. The film was co-produced by Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
Peter Kerekes gained international attention already in 2003 with his feature-length documentary debut 66 Seasons, which became a festival hit and won several awards. His next documentary, Cooking History, from 2009, was nominated for a Prix Arte at the European Film Awards. The film Velvet Terrorists from 2013, co-directed by Pavol Pekarčík and Ivan Ostrochovský, won the Fedeora Award at the Karlovy Vary IFF and had its international premiere in the Forum section at the famous Berlinale, where it won the Tagesspiegel Readers’ Award.