A Long Term Observation through the Eyes of Documentary Filmmaker

There will be a 30-minute-presentation on Therapeutic Community (TC) model for prison inmates, one of alternative approaches to transform violent offenders, by an independent Japanese documentary filmmaker Kaori Sakagami, followed by 90-minute-screening of her documentary film LIFERS: REACHING FOR LIFE BEYOND THE WALLS.

This award-winning film portrays an in-prison TC in California, USA run by Amity Foundation. Amity is known for its unique program where ex-offenders help inmates find new ways to live through facing their crimes and their own shattered childhood. Sakagami first heard about Amity from Alice Miller, Psychologist and the author of 13 books on the dynamics of childhood and violence during her research for TV documentary to introduce Miller's vision.

LIFERS is her third documentaries on Amity and Miller's analysis and has been screened internationally. In Japan, where the overwhelming majority feels insecure and shows concern over crime, the film has provided an arena to look at crime from a different perspective and discuss alternative ways to deal with it. One of the most significant and remarkable changes since the film was released can be seen in Japanese corrections: a new prison in Shimane has taken up Amity's approach.

In her presentation, Sakagami will explain how Amity differs from the conventional American correctional approach with some distinctive characteristics, and also show how it has been affecting the tradition of Japanese corrections.

About the speaker:
Kaori Sakagami, independent documentary filmmaker/chairperson of Out of Frame(non-profit)/visiting associate professor of Hitotsubashi University/visiting researcher of Aoyama Gakuin University Research Institute. Director, Producer & Editor of LIFERS: REACHING FOR LIFE BEYOND THE WALLS. Based in Tokyo, Japan. She received M.A. in University of Pittsburgh with a certificate of Latin American Studies in 1992. Worked as TV director for 9 years and received many awards for her documentary programs on death penalty, restorative justice, Russian immigrants in New York, breaking the cycle of child abuse. She left the TV field after her controversial NHK program on Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery, which was drastically censored and revised. She then started teaching at colleges on Media & Film Studies, film production, fieldwork on violence, and criminal justice. She recently left full-time teaching at Tsuda College to focus on film production and art workshops for children and women who have been victims of severe violence. She is currently working on a new documentary on San Francisco's marginalized women and the theater as well as the follow-up of LIFERS.

Film synopsis: 
Over 100,000 felons are serving life sentences in the U.S. -- a number that has doubled in the last decade. Behind the hardened facades of convicts, whose heinous crimes seem to merit no clemency, lie a myriad of personal stories. This documentary explores the stories of lifers currently serving time in the California penal system and sheds light on the counselors, who facilitate the rehabilitation of these convicts, as they reveal their own criminal past.

Inmates and ex-inmates who appear in this documentary are all part of an in-prison rehabilitation program called AMITY, which has been attracting attention across the nation -- and abroad -- for its unique program where ex-offenders help lifers come to terms with their crime. It works. Because the program has been proven to effectively reduce re-offending among felons at an incredible rate.

LIFERS: REACHING FOR LIFE BEYOND THE WALLS allows viewers to set foot in a world rarely seen outside the prison wall where inmates and counselors are made to face personal issues and accountability for their crimes, violence, gang involvement, drug usage, self-esteem, parenting, family dynamics, moral development, and relationship-building.

Their story is a profound one with much to say about the human condition.

Credit: 
A documentary by Kaori Sakagami
presented by out of frame
produced, directed and edited by Kaori Sakagami
camera Yukio Minami
sound engineer Eiji Mori
music score by Roger Scott Craig
narrated by Maya Moore
90min./documentary video/English/Color/2004

related website:http://outofframe.org

 

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Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute