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Alone in Four Walls (Allein in vier Waenden)

Alone in Four Walls
Scene from "Alone in Four Walls" (photo © Linger On Filmproduktion)

Adolescent boys struggle to grow up in a home for juvenile delinquents in rural Russia, where life behind bars may be better than the release to freedom. Filmmaker Alexandra Westmeier provides an intimate glimpse at a society from the inside out, where boys under the age of 14 are held for crimes ranging from theft to rape to multiple murders. They receive food and clothing. They go to school and engage in sports. For the first time in their young lives, they no longer have to fight for their daily existence; they can simply be what they are - children.

Like many of the boys here, Tolya, a murderer, recounts his crimes with unnerving nonchalance. Nonetheless, moments come through in each lad’s speech or mannerisms that reveal the child within the criminal. A 13-year-old newbie is not even allowed to say good-bye to his mother. He fights back tears that somehow reflect the sorrows of all his comrades.

Eschewing sentimentality, the elegantly crafted Alone in Four Walls is documentary filmmaking of the highest order. Austere, yet undeniably powerful, Westmeier’s heart-wrenching film literally rises in song, becoming a poignant ode to a lost generation of Russian youth.
Genre Society
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2007
Director Alexandra Westmeier
Screenplay Alexandra Westmeier
Cinematography Inigo Westmeier
Alexandra Westmeier
Producers Inigo Westmeier, Alexandra Westmeier
Production Company Linger On Filmproduktion/Berlin, in cooperation with MDR, WDR, ARTE
Runtime 85 min
Format 35 mm, color
Subtitled Versions English, French, German
Sound Technology Stereo
Festivals Locarno 2007 (Critic's Week), Sundance 2008 (Documentary Competition), Rotterdam 2008, Ophuels Festival Saarbruecken 2008, International Human Rights Festival Prague 2008, Seattle 2008, Melbourne 2008, Cambridge 2008, Message to Man 2008, Edinburgh 2008, AFI 2008, Calgary 2008, DocLisboa 2008, Artdocfest Moscow 2008, DocPoint Helsinki 2008, Thessaloniki 2008, Tomorrow Festival Moscow 2008, among others
Awards Prix SRG SSR idée suisse Locarno 2007, Film Prize of the Saarland Minister President & Best Documentary Saarbruecken 2008, Best Full Length Documentary Message to Man 2008, Best Documentary DocLisboa 2008, Laurel Branch Moscow 2008, among others
With backing from Hessische Filmfoerderung

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