Final Statement

20:00, 2016

On October 26, 1997, Susan Eubanks shot and killed her four boys and shot herself in an act of extended suicide. In a psychotic break she believed that she and her children would be safer to together in death than life. She survived her suicide attempt and was tried for the capital murder. She was found guilty of first-degree murder and the jury sentenced her to death. Before the judge imposed the sentence, Susan was allowed to deliver a final statement. This film, Final Statement, is in her words. Falling somewhere between narrative and re-enactment, Final Statement endeavors to dramatize her tragedy, what lead up to it, and her plea for social responsibility. 

Milwaukee Women's Festival, 2016
Cornell College, McWethy Gallery, Iowa 2015
"Flesh and Blood",Aggregate Space Gallery, San Francisco 2015

Diekman has corresponded and visited Susan Eubanks since her incarceration to find out more about her personal story. This film is part of Diekman's work collectively entitled Mother on Trial that addresses  the institution of motherhood as it is defined in the United States. The body of work, which includes documentary and experimental media, seeks to address such difficult subjects as infanticide, post-partum depression and psychosis, and the public opinion surrounding this. Countering the commonly held notion that filicidal mothers are either mad or bad (evil), the writer Michelle Oberman suggests that infanticide "may be seen as a response to the societal construction of and constraints upon mothering." Feminist criminologists Allison Morris and Ania Wilczynski suggest that pathologizing filicide as a female "sickness", rather than looking at the social conditions conducive to filicide, aids in strengthening the definition of "good" or "bad" mothers, further controlling the behaviors of all women and mothers. Mother on Trial further investigates the system of justice and punishment in United States, and the public desire for retribution. When a mother kills, how much should she pay?