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Post-production   /  Kylie Pascoe

The Art Of Incarceration

Beyond the walls of the gallery the artists quest for freedom is truly exposed.

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Impact areas

ARTS

HEALTH & WELLBEING

HUMAN RIGHTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE

INDIGENOUS

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Alex Siddons

  • PRODUCER Kylie Pascoe

Synopsis

DURATION: 85 MINUTES

Seen through the eyes of Indigenous prisoners at Fulham Correctional Centre, The Art Of Incarceration explores how art and culture can empower First Nations peoples to transcend their unjust cycles of imprisonment.

This narrative documentary humanises the over representation of Indigenous Australians within the prison system and provides an uncompromising insight into the inmate’s quest for cultural identity and healing as they prepare for the annual ‘Confined’ exhibition and life on the outside.

From deep inside Fulham, the artists complete their works whilst painting the audience a contemporary insight into the deeply ingrained incarceration epidemic of Australia’s First peoples. The film clearly and profoundly explores greatly misunderstood issues such as cultural disconnection, inter-generational trauma, addiction and institutionalisation.

The Art of Incarceration will continue the conversation that has recently ignited Australia and the world.

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Indigenous Australians make up 3% of the general population yet 27% of the prison population, and with a 55% chance of recidivism, the outlook for our incarcerated First Nations peoples is grim.

Locked up, disconnected from family and culture and forgotten - the cycle of incarceration begins.

In Victoria, NFP The Torch has created a unique art in prison mentoring program that provides inmates with the opportunity for a new life on the outside. Through their art, inmates reconnect to family and culture, while carving out a career they can continue upon release.

Through this film, we aim to inspire our First Nations peoples caught in the justice system to break the cycle of incarceration through their art and connection to the stories behind it. We aim to show them they are not forgotten and that there is another way...

Outside of prison, the film aims to illustrate how a program like this can help reduce the unacceptable high rate of recidivism.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Our key impact driver is to realize the vision of Chris Austin and Robby Wirramanda – cowriters and key subjects in the film. Through their incarceration both men were disconnected from family and culture, and forgotten as society turned its back, but both have broken the cycle of incarceration through their art. By sharing their story in cinemas and prisons across the country, and through more mentored art programs, this film can make a difference to the high rate of recidivism.

Outcomes

What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

SHORT TERM: To join the national conversation around black lives matter; to humanise the people currently incarcerated and to highlight the rates of recidivism; to create awareness of the art in prison program, the opportunities it can present and the way it can change people’s lives for the better; and to Identify opportunities for lived experience mentors to visit prisons to share stories and inspire.

MEDIUM TERM: To develop a program for all prisons nationally to screen the film in the Indigenous Unit; to connect The Torch with national arts organisations with the aim of developing and implementing a similar program, following The Torch’s model of returning 100% of the money from art sales directly back to the inmates; to extend the prison screenings into schools and universities to change perception about Indigenous incarceration.

LONG TERM: To help facilitate a reduction in the rate of recidivism.

Stakeholders

How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

The film is deeply connected to various organisations ranging from the Victorian justice system through to local community groups and NGOs, and to individuals ranging from tribal elders to academics and politicians. These associations have seen the film develop through a collaborative process and with incredible support from the families represented in the film. Throughout production, and during our current post production phase, the film undergoes regular consultation with these organisation to ensure the integrity of the story is maintained and that the artists are represented authentically and respectfully.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

After seeing the film, we hope for the following:
1. For inmates – to be inspired by Chris, Robby and Jack’s lived experienced and to become more engaged in their art as a means of breaking the cycle of incarceration.

2. For government and the justice system – to see there is a way to actively reduce recidivism while allowing our First Nations people to reconnect with their culture while incarcerated.

3. For education and community groups – to share the story through screenings and to continue the black lives matter conversation.

4. For individuals – as Chris states in the documentary, to show that not everyone is prison are “crooks, drug addicts and bad people”, and to think about purchasing art through exhibitions like ‘Confined’ where they can personally make a real difference to people’s lives.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Our indicators for success include:
1. A successful national theatrical release means that the film will have reached a mainstream cinema going audience.

2. Screening in each of the major prison Indigenous units allows the film to speak to those men and women caught in the incarceration cycle directly. Coupling these screenings with live or zoom Q&A’s will extend that experience.

3. Screening the film in schools and universities will allow us to reach the next generation and share the story of hope for our incarcerated First Nation’s peoples.

4. Connecting The Torch with other NFP organisations will establish a pathway to implementing the program (or similar) in other prisons around Australia.

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