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OneMinutesJr workshops on Juvenile Justice in Ukraine - Day 2

by Chris Schuepp

Melitopol, UKRAINE, 17 March 2013 - Day 2 of the OneMinutesJr at the Melitopol Detention Facility for Girls and since we are on a tight schedule with two 4-day workshops this week in Ukraine, we already have to hurry, finish the story development and get to start doing the hands-on work with the cameras.

But before we can do this, we give the participants a more detailed introduction into filming techniques while also explaining how to use the cameras. When do you use a tripod, how do you make sure the images does not shake, when do you use the zoom and how can you avoid using the zoom, how do you change the perspective, how do you change the focus? All these questions and more get answered and the young participants take notes, ask more questions and volunteer to practice their new skills directly with the equipment we brought.

The girls here in the Detention Facility are surprisingly open and active. They shared their stories with us yesterday and continue to do so today. After lunch we are ready to start filming. Alina (19) is one of the first who has a really detailed storyboard and wants to film in the yard. She is serving a three-year sentence for theft and comes from a broken family. 

Her parents neglected her, she went from home to her Grandma, then to a children's home, then to a boarding school, saw her brother, who had taken care of her, ending up in jail and at the age of 16 she came in conflict with the law herself and was placed here in the Detention Facility for Girls in Melitopol. She feels like a plant that has been uprooted way too many times and that is exactly the symbolism she uses for her story. A small plant that cannot grow roots, that is not given any attention and that is placed here, then there, then dropped elsewhere on her own. But Alina's film has a happy end and that is what she is working on right now.

Next in line is Anja, 18, also here for multiple cases of theft. She loves sports, especially basketball, and wants to use this as the backdrop of her story. "When you try something in sport, you have to practice and practice and practice until you succeed. In life it is similar, but sometimes you don't get too many chances and if you fail, it might have negative consequences." Anja's story is also a positive one and this is the case with most of the stories at this workshop. The girls have goals, they want to get their lives back on track and have plans for the time when they leave the penitentiary.

But they also look back at what has happened so far in their lives and they regret their mistakes. And, something that goes through all the stories like a red line, they are in dire need of reliable relationships. They need an anchor, someone they can trust and who takes them by the hand.

Julia (19) is here for manslaughter, serving a 7 1/2-year sentence. She is most concerned about the relationship with her brother right now, because the relationship has suffered a lot recently. Her brother is being bullied in school because his sister is behind bars and he has changed a lot. Julia is afraid she will lose him, so in her film, she gives him a call from the penitentiary and apologizes to him, begging him to keep in touch with her despite everything that has happened.

The filming of this story and a few other ones today is very emotional for the young inmates, but they obviously enjoy the process and seem happy to get a chance to share their ideas with us and the world. They know their films will also be seen outside the walls of their Detention Facility. We make sure that their identities are protected, no faces can be seen, no full names or places are mentioned and they are in full control of what is being filmed since they themselves operate the cameras.

An amazing experience, to be continued tomorrow... 



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