“Мама, я убью тебя”

“Мама, я убью тебя” (Mama, I’m going to kill you) is a feature documentary, and will screen under the title “Mama, Why?” at the Winnipeg Real to Reel Film Festival, February 18-23, 2014. A story about children living in an orphanage in Kolomna, an ancient city in Moscow Oblast situated at the confluence of the Moskva and Oka Rivers, 114 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

One of the children who is being interviewed in this documentary.

At first I thought this was a privately run orphanage since it appears wealthy, well taken care of. The building seems newer and up-to-date, but when you listen to the responses of people working in this orphanage you realize very quickly they are “soldiers of the old totalitarian system.” “The system of closed correctional facilities was a Soviet invention. With a few changes the Kolychevo school is managed the same way as 40 years ago… Their generals who invented these methods and gave these orders are long gone,” but the people running this orphanage and school are stuck. They are “guarding the school’s territory from the outside world.”

Why do children who seem normally developed end up in an orphanage for special needs? Every one of these 76 children has been diagnosed with oligaphrenia. I had to look it up in my dictionary. Here is what this strange looking word means:

Oligophrenia – mental retardation: Subnormal intellectual development as a result of congenital causes, brain injury, or disease and characterized by any of various cognitive deficiencies, including impaired learning, social, and vocational ability. Also called mental deficiency.

The orphanage is more like a juvenile prison, and these children will spend their childhood here. Children are being punished for the sins of their parents. The parents behaved badly, yet the children must bear the punishment. When the children violate the rules of discipline, they are reprimanded by being sent to a psychiatric hospital. Is it then any wonder when they question the authority they’re under? When life just doesn’t make sense to them? And when words like “Mama, I’m going to kill you” escape their lips, it shows the sadness and despair these children are living with.

The stories of three children, Sashka, Nastya and Lyokha are heart-breaking. All they want is to be loved, a chance at life itself. They dream about becoming a doctor, serving in the army as a marine or driving a truck through the country.

After seeing this documentary I had to think of something I had learned last year at  She Speaks 2013 where I heard Tom Davis speak about the situation of orphans in Russia. The statistics he presented were shocking.

Children stay in an orphanage until they are 16 years old. Then they are released into “society” with little to no life skills. After watching this documentary I can see how these children have trouble to survive on their own. The Kolychevo school in this documentary taught their children according to a curriculum for “mentally retarded children.” How can a child who was forced to live in this system for the first 16 years of their lives all of a sudden know how to behave themselves, how to become a productive participant in society? The dangers and predators are just waiting for these 16 year old orphans. According to statistics more than 50 % of orphaned girls end up in prostitution and sex slavery, many of them are trafficked to other countries.

“Mama, Why?” – a film by Elena Pogrebizhskaya – will screen at the Winnipeg Real to Reel Film Festival on Thursday, Feb 20 at 6:30 pm and Saturday, Feb 22 at 1:30 pm.

You will find the trailer here.



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