UPDATE FROM THE RIDGEFIELD PLAYHOUSE: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, The Ridgefield Playhouse Film Society's presentation of "Mothers of Bedford" on March 17th has been rescheduled for an April date. Please visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org for further information, or call the box office at 203-438-5795."
The Ridgefield Playhouse Film Society Documentary Film Series will screen the award-winning film Mothers of Bedford, about the hard fact that women are the fastest growing population in U.S. prisons today, at The Ridgefield Playhouse on Sunday, March 17, at 6:30 p.m. A Q&A with Director Jenifer McShane and Editor Toby Shimin led by Emmy Award-winning journalists Ira Joe Fisher and Morton Dean will follow. Pictured are Mona Graves and Jacob who are featured in the film. For tickets ($10 adults, $7.50 seniors, $5 students), call or visit the box office at (203) 438-5795, or order online at ridgefieldplayhouse.org.
The Ridgefield Playhouse Film Society Documentary Film Series will screen of the award-winning film Mothers of Bedford, about the hard fact that women are the fastest growing population in U.S. prisons today, at The Ridgefield Playhouse on Sunday, March 17, at 6:30 p.m. In 2011, Mothers of Bedford was nominated for "Best Documentary" at the prestigious Hot Docs International Film Festival. Director Jenifer McShane, editor Toby Shimin and other guests from the film will be on hand at the post-screening Q&A hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalists Ira Joe Fisher and Morton Dean. This event is underwritten by Cohen and Wolf, P.C. and The Ridgefield Press.
Viewers of this documentary are hit with a cold hard fact: Women are the fastest growing population in today's U.S. prisons with eighty percent of those women being mothers of school-aged children. Is it possible to become a better mother while serving time in a maximum-security prison? In Mothers of Bedford, five women who are incarcerated in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County share their stories. The film looks at their lives through the lens of motherhood. Many parents find it hard to imagine being away from a child for a week not to mention being separated for ten or twenty years.
In the Bedford Hills facility, just more than half of the 750 prisoners are mothers, serving sentences of five to 25 years to life for robberies, drug-related crimes or worse offenses. Mothers of Bedford explores the effects of a long-term prison sentence on the “mother-child relationship”.
The increase of women being imprisoned and the effect it has on their children is a statistic that does not get much media attention. Director
Jenifer McShane’s thought provoking film gives the viewer a chance to step inside the prison walls through the eyes of the filmmaker, who followed five women at the prison for four years, documenting their struggle to have a role in their children’s lives. Each of the five women followed in the film has children who participate in a program called the "Children's Center of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility", which helps the incarcerated mothers maintain and improve their relationships with their children. The program was founded by Sister Elaine Roulet more than 30 years ago after she realized that many children whose mothers go to prison often lose contact, which can cause untold damage to a mother-child relationship, no matter how strong the positive effects of the rehabilitation program for the incarcerated woman.
At one point in the film, Sister Roulet tells of a poem she wrote about a child who needs to study for a vocabulary quiz and asks his father what the word "prison" means. "Prison is a place where bad people go when they do bad things," the father tells his son. The son responds: "Where do good people go when they do bad things?"
Sister Roulet does not intend to paint the mothers as innocent victims. “Yes, they have committed crimes and people need to pay for their crimes. However, being guilty of a crime does not make that person a bad mother,” she believes.
Seating is limited at the popular Film Series events. For reserved seats, ($10 adults, $7.50 seniors, $5 students), call or visit the box office at (203) 438-5795, or go to ridgefieldplayhouse.org. The Ridgefield Playhouse is a not-for-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT.