Short of the Day: ‘Mother’s Day’ Reveals How Incarceration Affects Children

A powerful documentary about consequences of the penal system.
By  · Published on August 23rd, 2017

A powerful documentary about consequences of the penal system.

Fight Club, in a sense, is about the effect of parental absenteeism on an entire generation of men. The rise in divorces, in single-motherhood, and other social factors did indeed contribute to this phenomena under which young boys lacked male role models and as a result entered manhood with skewed ideas of masculinity.

That film, though, is fiction. The following short documentary, Mother’s Day, is not. Directed by Elizabeth Lo and R.J. Lozada, the film is another sort of look on the effect of parental absenteeism, here specifically a generation’s loss of mothers due to incarceration. Each year on the titular holiday, a charity in California collects children from all over the state and delivers them to see their mothers in prison. Through this personal lens, Lo and Lozada expose a national, social, and cultural malady. The documentary’s observational, unobtrusive style allows the narrative to play out of its own accord and offers an unfiltered glimpse into the lives of those affected, on both sides of the bars.

It’s no secret that America has an incarceration problem. From private-run facilities to mandatory minimums, the system is designed to keep as many people under lock and key for as long as possible, legally or otherwise. What’s not always discussed is the impact this problem has on the people on the outside, especially the generation of children growing up without parents. This documentary is a daring and powerful exploration of this unfortunate phenomena, and worth every second it takes to watch.

Related Topics: ,

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist