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Marc Le Piouff, Culture / justice project manager in Nord-Pas de Calais in the association Hors Cadre

Marc Le Piouff works in the association Hors Cadre.

How does the portrayal of the prison environment on television and in films evolve ? How do prisoners look at television ?

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As project manager for cultural development in jails, I work as a link between the prison staff and people working in culture. I intercede with twelve regional penal institutions in Nord-Pas de Calais. As often said, in order to set up a project on films, one can start with not much, with a library for example. But it is highly necessary to have really motivated CIPs (Integration and Probation Advisers). Some institutions already have cultural activities. In this case, my role is rather to back the operation in order to make it last. The reflections and problems brought up are very deep because they are nurtured by time and restraints, but also failures.

The association Hors Cadre has adapted its activities to prisons as soon as 1995 with 35mm film projections in the detention centre of Loos. During programming workshops, often based on a particular theme, a film professional proposes during several sessions a certain number of films that are shown, discussed and analysed. Then one film is selected and proposed to all prisoners during a debate and quite often in the presence of the director. Such workshops were first developed with the help of the PJJ (Youth Judicial Protection) in 1997, when young people had selected La Promesse by the Dardenne brothers, France, 1995. The first workshops in prisons started in 1998.

From 2005 on, the project got denser since we now have one workshop each year in the detention centre in Loos, that is to say four sessions of five or six programming workshops. These workshops concern a small number of prisoners, but most of them are involved in the screening. In 2006, the project was better structured due to the creation of the operation "Saison d’images en prison" (Image season in jail). Nowadays, this represents eight sessions in three penal institutions. We started with 35mm, but then, due to financial reasons, we have switched to video. Today, the house of correction in Loos has equipped itself with a screen and some projection equipment.

During all these debates, we have talked about equality, time confiscation, the way to look at things, to think, to exchange with artists. This keeps recurring, but it is not always expressed in the same way, because there are only a few workshops. This is why it is important to build up operations that enable artists to take the time to know, to understand, to develop this project, and also to give integration and probation advisers the time to integrate such logics.

I notice that these approaches are operating. Artists who start usually have to deal with this all at once. It seems even more interesting to me that they should know as little as possible about this approach to finally get to the heart of the matter, the meeting, for the situation that takes place is rarely what they had expected.