The Curious Autodidact

May 27, 2016

Point of View: The Return

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,prison reform,social justice — Honilima @ 12:15 pm

It’s summer, the time of year to suspend the Netflix account and spend more time outdoors when there is ample daylight. But if you are having an inside night don’t let educational opportunities to learn pass you by when there’s so much quality free content on-line.

Point of View (POV) is a showcase for some stunning documentaries that are shown on your local PBS station. Many people don’t realize that you can watch these marvelous independent films online or stream them onto a larger screen with a  device such as a $30 Chromecast (you can find them on sale for $25). As of this writing there are over 100 selections to choose from and trailers for many of the offerings to access.

The other cool thing is that the website provides interviews with the film makers and other educational resources to learn more on the topic. A major bonus for those thirsty for knowledge.

I watched The Return and Neuland both of which follow the pattern of the POV series by taking you intimately into other worlds. Each give viewers a “you are there” perspective which I find to be helpful to learn new viewpoints.

I have been a prison advocate for decades. Most who are paying attention are unable to grasp how we wound up imprisoning so many people and treating them like animals, instead of encouraging them with education to make the best out of their potential, from a young age. We should educate not incarcerate.

Along comes The Return, a film by Kelly Duane De la Vega and Kelly Galloway, an eye-opening look at what it is to be released from prison after thinking you would be there the rest of your life. Not only that but how your family and community might accept you after thinking you were going to be behind bars for the duration.

California was the first to adopt the three strikes law and their over-crowded prisons and incredible cost caused them to consider releasing those who were given unreasonable sentences if they were convicted of nonviolent crimes. This wise documentary follows several men who are released to see what life is like after being behind bars for years. This is one of those films that you will watch and think about weeks or possibly years later. For me, there weren’t major revelations because I am so familiar with struggles of integrating back into society but it was sobering to see Ken, with so much family support in place, wander about like he was visiting from another planet. This film will inspire you to work for prison reform and possibly to hire one of these former prisoners or provide support for families of the incarcerated, especially the children who are so impacted by this separation.

For me, there weren’t major revelations because I am so familiar with struggles of integrating back into society but it was sobering to see Kent, with so much family support in place, wander about like he was visiting from another planet. This film will inspire you to work for prison reform and possibly to hire one of these former prisoners or provide support for families of the incarcerated, especially the children who are so impacted by this separation.

Neuland, takes viewers into a Swiss classroom to learn what these young new refugees must deal with as foreigners in a new land. The emotion in the room is highly charged. The teacher is passionate about helping young people. It is interesting to see his approach compared to those you might see in America. His students have fled all kinds of tragic situations at home and he is trying to get them integrated into his culture and help them to set their goals realistic whilst understanding the feelings of home-sickness and agita that are in the hearts of his students.

These are films that have staying power and remind you that your burden may be heavy some days but others have different struggles and it is best we understand we all have room to grow and understand one another’s days.

 

 

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