Belarus has submitted Anastasiya Miroshnichenko’s documentary Debut for consideration in the best international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars.
The documentary focuses on 11 women serving their sentences in a penitentiary.
The film explores the soulless atmosphere of a correctional facility and questions the rationality of long prison terms for women with children in Belarus.
Debut was screened at a number of international film fests, including the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival. It is Belarus’ fourth entry for consideration in the best international feature film Oscar category since 1991.
Over 1,500 women are detained in a Belarus prison for first-time offenders. Eleven of them have volunteered to take part in a theater play. The rehearsals serve as the leitmotif for this balanced portrait that subtly frees these women from the stigma of being criminals. The women talk as mothers, daughters and wives. They miss their families and wrestle with the guilt of losing so many years behind bars.
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Last year Belarus broke 24-year abstinence from the Oscars with its ‘Crystal Swan’ indie movie. It was the first Oscar submission from Belarus since 1994. The 92nd Academy Awards will take place on 9 February in Los Angeles.