Motherhood on Trial

Producer/Director: Lynn Estomin
Associate Producer: Matt Davis
Editors: Lynn Estomin & Matt Davis
Videographer: Barbara Wolf
Research Director: Andrea Kornbluh
Music: Rags Tuttle & Pete Stringfellow
26 minutes, 1996


Charlotte Film & Video Festival
Windy City Documentary Festival
Canadian International Film Festival
Cinema Arts Women's Film Festival
Cincinnati Women's Film Festival
Cucalorus Film Festival
Dallas Video Festival
Missouri Video Festival
Festival Der Nationen, Austria
Fuse Boxes & Circus Breakers Exhibition of New Media
Mostra de Video Independente, Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona
National Women's Studies Association Conference
Philadelphia Independent Film & Video Festival
Rochester International Film Festival
Movies on a Shoestring Award
Society for Photographic Education National Conference
Three Rivers Film & Video Festival
Visions of the US Video Competition

Free Speech TV, National Broadcast
Ohio PBS Program Fair
WCET-TV (PBS), Cincinnati, OH
WNEO-TV (PBS), Youngstown, OH
WXXI (PBS), Rochester, NY

Motherhood On Trial examines contemporary perspectives on motherhood, religion, race and politics in America. The documentary looks at public reaction to the 1994 case of Susan Smith, the young mother who confessed to drowning her two sons in a South Carolina lake after claiming they were abducted by a black man. Multiple layers of audio and video combine original music, dramatic reading of Susan Smith's confession, court testimony, images of water, footage of the Southern landscape, and documentary interviews to create a complex tapestry of sound and image. Susan Smith's confession is inter-cut with a variety of interpretations of her actions, contrasting the meaning that five South Carolina women, the news media, politicians, and conservative religious leaders draw from the case. The different versions of Susan's story emphasize the complexity of the issues and explore how the background, experiences and agenda of each character influences his or her telling of the story.

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