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IDFA - In the Open + Doc Talk

“I’m here for murder, not for a sex offence,” says one of the prisoners off-camera. He wants to make this clear because if he ever becomes eligible for a transfer, he’ll have more chance as a murderer than as a sex offender. He’s in the minority in the Casabianda open detention facility in Corsica, because 80 percent of the inmates are serving sentences for sex offences, mostly committed against a family member. They are pariahs among pariahs, but the patient camera of Guillaume Massart reveals the people behind the offenders.

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Over the years that Massart spends in Casabianda, what begins as an observational documentary about a prison without walls and barbed wire develops into a breathtaking quest for humanity. In his disarmingly direct questioning, Massart takes his time to delve into the moral quagmire of the deeply troubled inmates. He finds despair and self-reflection, but also denial. At the same time, the film raises complex dilemmas about retribution and forgiveness, including the seemingly simple question as to whether everyone deserves a second chance.

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