Many parents find it hard to imagine being away from a child for a week. Imagine being separated for ten or twenty years? Mothers of Bedford explores the effects of a long-term prison sentence on the mother-child relationship.
The film examines the struggles and joys these five women face as prisoners and mothers. It shows the normal frustrations of parenting as well as the surreal experiences of a child’s first birthday party inside prison, the cell that child lives in with her mother, and the biggest celebration of the year, Mother’s Day in prison!
“Mothers of Bedford is a beautiful film. It provides audiences with unprecedented access to this community of women and will move our national conversation about incarceration to a new level.”
– The Fledging Fund
Eighty percent of women in US prisons today are mothers of school-age children. Filmmaker Jenifer McShane spent four years visiting Bedford Hills and following the women and their families. A mother herself, Jenifer was drawn to the universal themes of motherhood and the staggering power of the mother-child relationship. In all walks of life, mother and child care for each other. As we watch the mothers inside Bedford trying to become their better selves, we see parts of our own selves – and that gives us all hope.
Jenifer’s first documentary, A Leap of Faith, about an integrated school in Belfast, Northern Ireland premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in 1996. Mothers of Bedford teams her again with the gifted editor, Toby Shimin.
London, 1962. Two teenage girls – GINGER & ROSA – are inseparable. They skip school together, talk about love, religion and politics and dream of lives bigger than their mothers’ domesticity. But the growing threat of nuclear war casts a shadow over their lives. Ginger (Elle Fanning) is drawn to poetry and protest, while Rosa (Alice Englert) shows Ginger how to smoke cigarettes, kiss boys and pray. Both rebel against their mothers: Rosa’s single mum, Anoushka (Jodhi May), and Ginger’s frustrated painter mother, Natalie (Christina Hendricks). Meanwhile, Ginger’s pacifist father, Roland (Alessandro Nivola) seems a romantic, bohemian figure to the girls. He encourages Ginger’s ‘Ban-the-Bomb’ activism, while Rosa starts to take a very different interest in him. As Ginger’s parents fight and fall apart, Ginger finds emotional sanctuary with a gay couple, both named Mark (Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt), and their American friend, the poet Bella (Annette Bening). Finally, as the Cuban Missile Crisis escalates – and it seems the world itself may come to an end – the lifelong friendship of the two girls is shattered. Ginger clutches at one hope; if she can help save the world from extinction, perhaps she too will survive this moment of personal devastation.Buy Tickets