Another Me: Looking into the minds of convicts of sexual violence
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Screened recently at the Lecce Film Festival, Claudio Casazza’s documentary follows the rehabilitation of a group of sex offenders at Bollate Prison
It was like a fly on the wall, observing from a distance but never interfering, that Monzesi documentary maker Claudio Casazza spent a year at Bollate Prison (in Milan), for his latest film Another Me, documenting an important experiment and the first and only of its kind in Italy: a therapeutic course for sex offenders, to help them to understand themselves, the gravity of their crimes and, once they have served their sentence, to try to never do it again. “Trying” is the key word here: theirs is an attempt, with no certain outcome. And it is this very sense of human fallibility, of latent doubt – by both parties, psychologists and inmates alike – that underpins the one hour and 20 minutes of this interesting documentary, which was screened at this year’s Lecce European Film Festival after winning awards at the 57th Festival dei Popoli, the Trieste Film Festival, and Documentary Month 2017. There is no certainty here: every sequence of the film ends with a question mark hanging over it, an issue left hanging, an evocative silence. They are questions that subsequent scenes try to answer, but the circle never seems to close.
Sergio, Gianni, Giuseppe, Valentino, and Enrique are the main inmate protagonists, but we never see their faces, just a few features: their hands, necks, the backs of their necks, a knee. The director chose to keep them out of focus, to protect them, their victims, and the viewer from the rawness of their crimes, but also to convey the distance that exists between these men and their crimes. It is a distance that the intensive therapy administered by the team of criminologists and therapists headed up Paolo Giulini is trying to reduce and quash. What do they think of their crimes? How do they justify them? How do they think they will act once they get out of prison? These are just some of the questions asked at group sessions and during one-on-one meetings with these sex offenders, who speak freely, showing their various levels of awareness of the gravity of the actions that landed them in prison, and their resistance to the therapy or sincere participation, depending on the case.
It would have been easy to turn this film into a dispenser of deviance, dwelling on the morbidity of the subject matter broached. But Casazza’s blunt, discrete and professional approach, like that of the team of doctors and interns in the film, makes it a profound and reflective experience in which no one judges anyone, and the account given by a victim of sexual abuse – a woman who agrees, with extraordinary strength, to meet the inmates and speak to them, in one of the more meaningful moments of the entire rehabilitation programme shown to us – is not given as condemnation, but an invitation to get back in the game, to engage in dialogue and understand, a clear-headed and calm observation that we are all human beings, and as such, fallible and fragile.
Another Me, which was produced by Enrica Capra for Graffiti Doc with the support of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism and the Piemonte Doc Film Fund, will be released from tomorrow, 13 April, in Italian theatres by Lab80.
(Translated from Italian)