Mother Superior

Mack, AlexMontero, Diana

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Annotated by:
Jones, Therese
  • Date of entry: Dec-12-2007
  • Last revised: Dec-11-2007


The tag line for the documentary short film, Mother Superior, is: "This is your mom. This is your mom on drugs." Methamphetamine addiction has slowly and silently encroached into American suburbia, becoming the drug of choice for women who are struggling to balance the demands of family and career and to meet the expectations of a culture that prizes upbeat, thin, and sexy soccer moms. When the two filmmakers, Alex Mack and Diana Montero, learned that the tidy neighborhoods and wholesome lifestyles of their own hometown, Salt Lake City, ranks third in the United States for meth use among women and that thirty-seven percent of individuals in drug treatment programs are mothers addicted to meth, they set out to make an educational documentary. The twenty-two minute film combines animation, dramatization, information from public health officials and health care professionals, and personal testimony from women in recovery.


There are many surprising elements surrounding this short documentary film, beginning with the age of the filmmakers themselves. Mack and Montero were only seventeen and nineteen years of age, respectively, when they began the project at Spy Hop Productions, a local non-profit youth media arts and educational enrichment center in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2007, Mother Superior was selected from a group of approximately 4500 entries for a screening at the Sundance Film Festival. The film uses a creative and contemporary blend of animation and fast-forward dramatization to represent what the "good mother" should be, should do, and should look like: full-time wife, part-time counselor, doctor, teacher, activist, advocate, and chauffeur who is thoughtful, sexy, gracious and caring. And she should be an excellent cook and positive role model.

The women who speak candidly about the early stages of their drug use describe meth as making them a "better person," a "super woman" who could lose twenty pounds in one week, get more things done, and keep the bathroom tile gleaming. But as the addiction takes control, they become homeless, lose custody of their children, and suffer memory impairment, skin infections, and drug-induced psychosis. The brief scene of a dentist attending to the extreme problems associated with "meth mouth" is a powerful image for drug prevention. An ongoing conversation between the filmmakers as they drive through an upscale residential area is the central structural device of the documentary, which ends with the revelation that Mack's own stepmother is struggling with the addiction.


This film was screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival, the 2006 T Tauri Film Festival, the 2006 Ojai Film Festival, and the 2006 Hamptons International Film Festival.

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