Docudays UA for the Future Workers of the Penitentiary Service

Media education Cinema Clubs on human rights Docudays UA started working at the higher education institutions of the penitentiary system this year. Now future prison and pretrial facilities workers have the opportunity to year-round watch the best movies of the International Documentary Film Festival on Human Rights Docudays UA, to discuss them, to invite interesting people – human rights defenders, social activists, writers and others – to discussion. The festival team prepared the first collection of ten films on DVD. Moreover, for better perception by the audience the foreign films were not only translated but post-synchronized in Ukrainian.

Cinema Clubs were opened by the movies “Open Class” (directed by Natalia Mashtaler), “New Heroes” (directed by Roman Bondarchuk), "The ABC" (directed by Madli Lääne), "Scrap Metal" (directed by Dmytro Hluhenkyi), "The Hairdresser’s Will" (directed by Finley Pretsell and Adrian McDowall). After films the viewers discussed both the problems depicted in the films, and the problem of professionalism and competence of Ukrainian officers of the law enforcement authorities in general and penal institutions in particular, as well as imperfect mechanisms provided by the state to its citizens to protect human rights in the relations prisoners-prisoners, staff-prisoners, staff-community prisoners-community.

According to the students, discussions were hot and sincere, "because the heroes of documentaries are real people who are just like us, like those who live close to us, as those whom we meet and with whom we work every day."

During the discussions the theme of human happiness was second after the topic of the human rights. In Chmelnytskyi Staff Advanced Training School (further-School) of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine discussions on this subject were inspired by the film "Scrap Metal", the protagonist of which is a collector of old metal scrap who lives in a dilapidated house, sleeps on the couch donated by his neighbours, washes himself with tap water in the yard and feels happy. Why? Because he makes his piece of bread himself, he has a roof over his head, he is young, and has a woman he loves and who loves him. The trainees concerned about the protagonist’s life and talked about what a person needs for healthy living. After a hot debate about the meaning of the word "happiness" and what may prevent the man’s dream to be happy, everyone present agreed that a man himself is the builder of his own life.

The films recommended by the experts to serve in prison occupied a special place among the films shown on Docudays UA festival. "The Hairdresser’s Will" is the film that was offered to the students of Chernihiv Law College, the future employees of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine. The story of the film is seemingly simple: all prison prepares for annual hairdressing competition among prisoners. The participants are striving for the top prize, but thoughts of the protagonist of the film Francis are not just about a competition: “They entrust scissors to me, but I am here for the murder”. Secret dreams and aspirations of some the most dangerous Scottish criminals who again and again scroll down their lives in their heads when making haircuts to other prisoners are unlocked to the viewers. “Ten minutes here are like ten minutes in freedom” – thanks to hairdressing many prisoners are reassessing their actions and preparing themselves for another life outside jail.

Viewers, the future employees of the detention centres, obtained an opportunity to look at prisoners through the eyes of filmmakers, to look into their souls and hear the prisoners’ thoughts. The event was organized by Dmytro Mamchur, the leading media specialist and the head of Pedagogy and Psychology cycle, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Major of internal service of Chernihiv Law College Serhii Yermak. After watching the film there was a discussion on a possible effectiveness of the education and resocialization means shown in the Scottish film if applied in Ukraine. It was concluded during the discussion that human rights is not only a system of legal rules and regulations, which is fixed at the level of international treaties, constitutions or legislation of separate countries, but the actual practice of implementation of these rights. And that for the officers of the Penitentiary Service it is important to remember: imprisonment is only a restriction of the right to freedom of movement, but other human rights of prisoners should remain intact.

In addition to the above educational institutions of the SPS of Ukraine, Cinema Clubs were also opened at the Institute of the Criminal Enforcement Service and Bila Tserkva College for Professional Development of the Staff of the SPS of Ukraine. All the events were held owing to the joint efforts of the organizing committee of Docudays UA and the coordinator of the festival in the departmental schools of the SPS of Ukraine, the chief researcher of the Scientific Research Laboratory of the Research Centre Oleh Duka.

Cinema Clubs are created within the project “Campaign for Human Rights in Ukraine using the tools of the International Documentary Film Festival on Human Rights Docudays UA” supported by the European Union and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the National Endowment for Democracy (USA).


Olha Skrypnyk,

Coordinator of the Project “Campaign for Human Rights in Ukraine using the tools of the International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Docudays UA”,

Valentyna Potapova,

Methods specialist of the Project

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