Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

La Mama: An American Nun’s Life In A Mexican Prison

Airs Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Credit: Courtesy of Jody Hammond/Ronn Kilby

Above: Image of hands holding a rosary from the film "La Mama: An American Nun’s Life In A Mexican Prison."

How does an American nun end up serving a 'life sentence' in a Mexican prison? Mother Antonia, 'La Mama', has done so by choice for more than 30 years. After a life of privilege in Beverly Hills that included two marriages, two divorces and seven children, Mary Brenner became a nun at age 50. She felt called to Tijuana's most notorious prison, La Mesa Penitentiary.

Courtesy of Jody Hammond/Ronn Kilby

Street shot of Tijuana, Mexico and the La Mesa Penitentiary from the film "La Mama: An American Nun’s Life In A Mexican Prison."

Outside prison walls, she founded her own order, Servants of the Eleventh Hour. Like La Mama, they are all older women who believe they can make a difference, serving the poorest of the poor. Despite alarming violence in Tijuana and severe prison overcrowding, Mother Antonia says she will never leave 'sus hijos', the prisoners she considers her sons and daughters.

This film was conceived, written and produced by Jody Hammond. Photographed and edited by Ronn Kilby. Narrated by Susan Sarandon. Visit the film's website to watch a trailer.

"La Mama" The Movie is on Facebook.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.