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Hot Docs 2021: “Apart”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

It would be discriminatory to say that women who have children leave a deeper scar in their children’s heart than men. Even though a man’s presence in the child’s life is important, it more evident that children suffer more when they are separated from their mother. But when those mothers are sent to jail, it’s even worse. “Apart” is a culmination story of three mothers, four children and eighteen years of prison.

Each story offered in” Apart” deserves a separate adaptation film with an A-list cast. Whether it’s Tomika, Lydia, Amanda or Malika Kids, a formerly incarcerated mother who now is a Program Director at the Workforce Development, it is an absolutely touching story you will love to hear. The first three women were sent to jail because of drugs in Cleveland, Ohio, a state with a record number of women in prison. Thirty of them are selected for Malika’s reentry program that will open up the doors for the three women as a major step forward to get reunited with their children.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking to hear the stories told by the three women. We know that they have made a mistake. As you watch them you quickly realize they don’t belong in jail anymore. At least not when we find them. Vibrant, refreshing, focused, determined and with remorse, they understand what is at stake. Malika Ridd (my new hero) knows that too. That’s why her program is meant to help the state to determine if they can release one of the women earlier due to successful completion of the course.

Director Jennifer Redfearn delivers an honest portrayal of three incarcerated women‘s life story in the most nuanced way. It’s touching, uplifting and even inspiring. The film makes it an emotional journey too because there are some scenes you will find yourself in tears of sadness and joy at the same time. It’s such a wonderful experience watching “Apart”, not to mention educational and life-teaching. Because we’re always in a rush to judge others, and do not believe someone can repair the past and build a better future. That’s why “Apart” is a must-see film.

In the harsh era we live in, we need to hear more stories like this. The film mainly focuses on four women and the children, the program and what it aims at. It shows that prison reform can work. However, the most important moment the film captures is how the children react to the separation from their mother and an opioid crisis that has no desire to slow down with its horrendous goal to take as many lives as it can.

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