Prisons in Chile have a strict no-camera policy. The documentary Malqueridas was filmed in Chilean prisons. Women serving their sentences within the closely guarded walls used their phones to record their experiences of life and especially of motherhood. Short, shaky clips build up to a desperate mosaic of what it feels like to be a mother in prison while your children roam free in the world.
Many of the babies born in prison grow to be toddlers within its walls. They take their first steps, utter their first words, and spend their first birthdays alongside their mothers. The prison environment is their everyday, and as long as they have their mothers beside them, they seem as happy as any well-loved child. The turning point is the second birthday, when the children are put in orphanages or sent to stay with relatives, while the mothers stay behind bars. Things go downhill for the children, and the mothers can only worry and feel powerless.
Through experimental narrative techniques, this film tugs at the heartstrings. It is distressing to watch your children through a small mobile phone screen, which sometimes goes blank or turns off completely. At times, the women cannot get a hold of their children at all, and when there are news, they tend to be bad. Despite this, or maybe precisely because of it, life in prison goes on. The women party, fall in love and promise to take care of each other, both in prison and outside.
Sissi Korhonen (translated by Virpi Sumu)