Over 1,500 women are detained in a Belarus prison for first-time offenders. Eleven of them have volunteered to take part in a theater play. Their reasons vary: some see it as a small break from the tedium of prison life, some regard it as therapy, and others approach it as a practice run for when they return to society. The rehearsals serve as the leitmotif for this balanced portrait that subtly frees these women from the stigma of being criminals. The women talk as mothers, daughters and wives. They miss their families and wrestle with the guilt of losing so many years behind bars. The director uses various techniques to present these women as three-dimensional characters: close-up interviews about their fears, beautifully framed shots of the daily collective routines of jail life, images from surveillance cameras that emphasize how their lives are controlled, and of course their debut on the professional stage. By then, you almost feel as if you’ve landed in a feel-good movie with a happy ending, but the director doesn’t let it get that far.
Viktar Labkovich for PervajaKinoVideo Company
Darya Labkovich for PervajaKinoVideo Company