A campaign was developed for the film, aimed at reaching those affected directly. In keeping with the spirit of the film, not just outside observation should take place – but dialogue should be possible. The perpetrators are not looked at from a distance, but those affected are addressed directly and involved.
Throughout Germany, BEYOND PUNISHMENT was shown in 39 prisons in front of hundreds of offenders and numerous prison employees, social workers, lawyers, etc. The director Hubertus Siegert was present at 15 screenings. There were film talks and discussions that showed what chances the film opens up for those affected to consider the topic.
The campaign kicked off in the Tegel correctional facility (Berlin).The journalist Jörg Niendorf summarized at the time: “It can get loud, restless. Be prepared for it,” that was the hint. Noise is a constant issue in the largest male penal system in Germany, in the Tegel prison. The prison newspaper is full of complaints about noise, screaming, stress. A social worker, who has been in Tegel for 20 years, says: “If there s one thing I have learned here, then it would be being sensitive to noise.” It echoes and rumbles all the time, everywhere.
Now 25 inmates are moving their chairs in the institution’s culture room, in a bare room with a coarsely tiled floor. The social service woman shrugs. As if she were arming herself for the greater unrest. And then the film runs and you don’t hear anything. Just the film and its actors for 98 minutes. The social worker often looks through the rows in the dark, everyone is sitting as quiet as a mouse. Now the light in the cultural area comes on again, but the quiet in the hall remains.
“That touches me a lot,” says a man with a hat, in his mid-fifties, who says he has been in prison for a total of 15 years. Nobody in prison actually wants to deal with the question of victims and injured parties. Everyone wants to stay well clear of this. Everyone has his defense strategy. A young detainee, convicted of theft umpteen times, is just as touched, he says. Emotional. He really wants to say a lot. At first he stayed at a distance, in a back row, his legs bobbing continuously up and down. Now he turns to the others. Many men turn around in the rows of chairs, looking at each other as if they wanted to form a circle right here and now.
In conversation with the film director, you ask for details. What is the young prisoner doing in Norway today, long after the shooting? Vocational training? And will the sister of the murder victim from New York still manage to face the man who was convicted of the murder? Questions that are not only related to the film are also in the room: How much do we want to allow to get closer to us, and what feelings are we allowed to show in male prison? Would it be possible to have conversations here like in Wisconsin, which you now know about? In any case, a lot has happened. Just like that, without a lot of fuss, several times that evening: In front of the assembled team, this little word about touching keeps coming up. And every time this comes up, people stay very quiet.
Employee of the victim-offender mediation, present at the screening in a prison for women: “The 30 spectators, among which 20 prisoners were, were as quiet as a mouse. In the conversation that followed, there was a very lively and open conversation with one another”. After the event, inmates, including some “hard-core” ones, came to me to say thank you and shake hands, something that had never happened before.
Prison director, Saarland: “During the demonstration it was so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop, which is very, very unusual. HubertusSiegert’s documentation demonstrably influences how the perpetrators deal with their crimes.”Sociologist and criminologist, present at the screening in the JVA Lübeck / Schleswig-Holstein: “I was struck by the astonishing and convincing hint from a prisoner convicted of murder that what was portrayed in the film as desirable and necessary reflection and communication behavior, is not only difficult as it is rare and yet necessary after criminal offenses, but also in the normal everyday world…
“Anger, which, far sweeter than trickling drops of honey, rises in the bosom of a man like smoke.“
“Since Homer’s time, people have worked to control anger and violence. Laws came into existence, criminal justice came into existence, and prisons came into existence. For the time of the punishment, the victim and the perpetrator were strictly separated.“
Hubertus Siegert, Regisseur von BEYOND PUNISHMENT