UNGUARDED takes us inside the walls of APAC, the revolutionary Brazilian prison system centered on the full recovery and rehabilitation of the person.
Directed by Simonetta D'Italia Wiener
Produced by T.J. Berden
Executive Producers: Giovanni Morricone, Josh Smith
Director of Photography: Bruno Tiezzi
Sound Mix: Fabio Venturi
Editor: Vito DeCandia
A Camino Productions, NYC Production
Beginning in 1972, Dr. Mario Ottoboni volunteered in some of Brazil's worst prisons. Seeing men and women frequently return to a life of crime once they left prison, Dr. Ottoboni decided to found his own restorative justice-based system, APAC (Association for the Protection and Assistance of Convicts).
"The 'lock them up' mentality without true rehabilitation finally has competition." Patrick McManimon, Asst Prof, Criminal Justice, Kean Univ
The results have been extraordinary. While the crime rate and recidivism rates have continued to increase in Brazil's public prisons, within the APAC system they have steadily decreased.
UNGUARDED explores the unique method behind this system, now present in twenty three countries across four continents, where there are no guards or guns. Observing the daily lives of the "recuperandos" (recovering inmates) who live and work there, we see firsthand why—as one inmate puts it—"no one escapes from love."
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2022
Copyright Date: 2021
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-76-3
"Unguarded is a realistic documentary that challenges the dominant cultural assumption that prisons must be places of punishment to deter and correct those who have committed crimes. The revolutionary impact of the APAC model is to demonstrate the healing potential of the positive forces of love, trust, community, and faith to transform even hardened repeat offenders. Eye-opening and compelling, this documentary offers a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate courses in criminal justice/corrections, sociology, psychology, legal studies, anthropology, and restorative justice."
Carolyn Boyes-Watson, Professor of Sociology, Founding Director, Center for Restorative Justice, Suffolk University
"I wholeheartedly recommend Unguarded. It brings a blow of hope and optimism, showing that every human being may experience redemption. Well shot and edited, the film conveys a deep humanism."
Krzysztof Zanussi, Co-Founder of the European Film Academy
"This film, set in Brazil, examines many of the issues commonly discussed in the context of U.S. prisons: the limited effectiveness of punishment and deterrence; a desire for more humane incarceration, rehabilitation, and reduced recidivism; correctional services focused on relationship building, trust, and opportunities for success; and the challenges associated with poverty, unemployment, and prisoner reentry. The APAC initiative illustrates how prison reform is taking place in other countries, and Unguarded can facilitate discussions about current and future reform efforts, as well as the research on their implementation and effectiveness."
David Myers, Professor of Criminal Justice, University of New Haven
"Unguarded shows what can happen when prisoners are treated as human beings. Viewing this powerful film about a program in a distant land that seeks to restore rather than destroy prisoners shows clearly that change to America's broken prison system is within our reach. All we need do is heed the simple truths that this film so forcefully expresses. Unguarded could be an important part of any criminal justice course and would be a wonderful springboard for community discussions about criminal justice reform."
Michael B. Mushlin, Professor Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University
"Unguarded explores the rehabilitative ethos behind APAC's alternative prisons, centering on the perspectives of men and women who have directly experienced this unique restorative justice-based system. Importantly, this film does not look for 'the relative innocence line,' but includes the voices of 'recovering' people who have committed violent offences. Unguarded should be screened in communities across the world in order to challenge 'carceral common sense' and ignite public dialogue about the purpose and effects of our own prisons as well as the humanity of all people who are incarcerated."
Hollis Moore, Assistant Professor of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University
"The 'lock them up' mentality without true rehabilitation finally has competition. Unguarded provides a tremendous opportunity to view alternative solutions, and the success of this modality should be researched and explored in countries throughout the world. The film should encourage students of corrections to begin the process of renewed interest in rehabilitation and places restorative justice front and center in the debate over correctional philosophy."
Patrick McManimon, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Kean University
"The documentary was uplifting to us all; everyone (incarcerated men, volunteers, and staff) took something away from it, especially hope...We must recognize that incarcerated people are human beings, the same as us, no different...I hope you are able to have it shown in many more correctional facilities throughout the country."
Captain Jessica Davis, Warden, Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office
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In Portuguese with English SDH, Spanish and Italian subtitle options; scene selection.
Awards and Festivals
Semi-Finalist, Latin American Studies Association Film Festival
Chicago Indie Film Awards
European Cinematography Awards
Around International Film Festival (Berlin)
Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival
Latin American Studies
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