Facing the Day| 1hr : 13mins
Director: Ivona Juka | Producer: Anita Juka
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: Croatia (Hrvatska)
A group of convicts from Lepoglava took part in a prison theatre production based on Shakespeare's Â«Midsummer Night's DreamÂ». The production was the result of improvisations on prison life. That is, the prisoners actually play themselves. In the beginning, the â€œshowâ€ was meant to be performed inside the prison, but it exceeded its primary purpose of a prison workshop and was shown in several Croatian theatres. The film is not based on their theater successes, nor is the emphasis put on the theatre itself. The theatre is used to show them as people and to show their life in a specific environment â€“ prison.
The theatre is a metaphor of â€œescapeâ€ and of accepting those that are socially unacceptable. In the performance, people are ready and prepared to accept them as they are. The theatre is also a metaphor of the gestures we perform every day to be accepted by others.
The film is based on the characters that are in many ways original and different from the prisoners we usually see in movies, where they are often shown as romantic heroes that couldnâ€™t fit into the system or monsters that need to be cut off from society. In this film, they are humans, with dark sides that brought them in the prison in the first place, and good sides that sometimes make them relatable and a lot like us. They also have their weaknesses, their faults and their valuesâ€¦.
At the beginning of the film, we introduce them as robbers and murderers; we state their crimes and their sentences. We present them just as society perceives them while reading the black pages â€“ as monsters. After the first shock, the goal is to make the viewers perceive the other things that are not written in their dossiers â€“ that is, to perceive them no longer as monsters but as men. Which they are â€“ not heroes or idealised men, but men. Men that look so alike to â€œusâ€ on the outside, with the same longings, dreams and similar torments.
And they are troubled with the same thing that trouble us: How to face the day? How to fill the emptiness of life? And is it possible to avoid the gloom of everyday life? They, whom we perceive as so distant and monstrous, are shown as our reflections.
That is the universality of the film. In the end, despite the particulars of the characters and their lives, it doesnâ€™t matter where, how, whoâ€¦ because this â€œemptinessâ€, the sense of "limitations", the â€œroutineâ€ and trying to escape from it â€“ this is something known to everyone on both sides of the prison wall, in all cultures and all places.
Many may find it provocative, but isnâ€™t one of the purposes of documentary film to destroy inhibitions and to make us question our beliefs?