In Tunisia for the first time three prisoners were allowed the opportunity to leave prison for a few moments to help make a documentary about the Carthage Film Festival.
The prisoners were selected for their good behaviour as well as skills and the experience was life-changing as explained by one of the inmates.
Previously, all prisoners had undergone eight months of training.
“What I’ve gained is that when I get back home I have an idea of what I would like to do. The training we did is making me think about starting up a production company or to work in filming. For example, today I met directors and people who watched what I’ve produced and the way I work. It makes me happy to see that and makes me want to get into this field”, concluded Karim, one of the inmates from the Mahdia prison involved in this initiative.
The initiative is the latest stage of a project that began with festival film screenings inside prisons seven years ago.
For the prison authorities, this is a way to prepare the return of prisoners to life outside prison walls.
“Our objective was to give these inmates a passion through culture. For me, when we reach this goal, it’s a good thing. Then it’s down to them to decide to progress and to produce their own work, or at least to be passionate consumers of cultural products that will have an impact on them. And this awareness will in turn impact their behaviour” explained Nizar Salem, senior official in the prisons and reform authority.
For the official in charge of the prison section at the film festival, it’s all part of the process of reehabilitation.
“The Carthage Film Festival comes from the people and is for the people. So this category of the Tunisian people should not be excluded, because there are people who will leave jail. They need to get used to going to the cinema. That’s the goal, to make them passionate about cinema. When they watch films and know how to debate them, we can say that we have won several things”, says Achraf Laamar.
According to data provided by the World Organisation Against Torture, Tunisia has a prison population of around 24,000 inmates.