REstART is a festival that aims at creating a collective reflection on justice, solidarity and repair in today’s Europe in the aftermath of personal and societal trauma, conflict, and harm. The Festival is firmly anchored in the values and methods of restorative justice which aim at connecting people and restoring just relations. Attention will be given to restorative justice responses to societal level conflicts originated and violence escalated during crisis situations, with the aim of giving a voice to the suffering and harm experienced in this period and to “restart” to connect with people.
To encourage reflections and animate the debate, the EFRJ invited artists, activists and restorative justice professionals to propose a performance or exhibition that reflected the concept of the festival and aimed to create a reflection on the themes proposed.
The year 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ). As the organisation has been in contact and often in collaboration with a number of artists exploring and reflecting on restorative justice, the concept of the REstART Festival emerged as a pertinent form to celebrate this anniversary and facilitate the debate of innovative justice approaches. However, 2020 has also proven to be an extraordinary year with the unfolding crisis around the Covid-19 pandemic and its multiple consequences in our societies. As restorative justice focuses on the reparation of harm, the REstART Festival aims to offer a platform to account the harm our societies are experiencing in this crisis and to explore ways of reparation, through the key values of restorative justice: human dignity, solidarity, truth and responsibility to encourage a dialogue over a “restart” of our communities and the way we live in the world.
Most contributions to the REstART Festival will be online, given the current sanitary crisis we live in. We will provide the link to the platform in November to all registered participants. We also plan some contributions (Belgian artists and film screenings) to be performed in the city of Leuven (Flanders, Belgium). For this, we are thankful to the municipality which supports this Festival by offering the venue for the live events: the Leuven Public Library in Rijschoolstraat 4.
Internationally, Leuven is known for its contributions to the development of research and practice in the field of restorative justice and for building social support for the use of restorative approaches in criminal justice and in the overall society. The EFRJ with local partners as KU Leuven’s Institute of Criminology (LINC) and Leuven Restorative City project (LRC) makes Leuven the symbolic town for restorative justice, offering a fertile soil for today’s endeavours and ongoing projects about nonviolent responses to crime and conflict.
REstART is centred around three key topics: 1) Justice, 2) Solidarity, and 3) Repair. Each topic will be presented through different art works and after-talks with the artists. The programme includes exhibitions, films, books, games, music and much more, all meant to appreciate innovative participatory ways to respond to conflict and harms through restorative lenses. All these artworks will be accessible in an online platform with a series of scheduled virtual encounters with the artists. The live events in the Leuven Public Library include the contributions from Belgium and the film screenings.
Some of the confirmed contributions are listed below.
- Documentary “Oog in oog” by Dirk Leestmans (Belgium). This reportage (“eye in eye”) tells the story of a man, Ivan Vissers, and the two sisters of Robert Van Vamp, murdered in 2011 by Ivan. While Tine disagrees with the idea of meeting him, Annemie participated in a restorative justice programme led by the Flemish service Moderator. The screening may be followed by the testimony of Annemie.
- Book presentation of “Aantekeningen bij een moord” by Peter Vermeersch (Belgium). The book is the account of a murder trial and the author's personal quest for what perpetrators, justice, restoration and punishment mean in such a context. The book presentation aims at setting the basis for a discussion with the audience.
- Film screening “The Meeting” by Marie Keenan and Ailbhe Griffith (Ireland). Marie Keenan, professor at the University College Dublin, and Ailbhe Griffith, restorative justice advocate, are the protagonists of the film “The Meeting” directed by Alan Gilsenan. The film is based on a real restorative justice meeting which took place between Ailbhe and the man who, nine years earlier, subjected her to a horrific sexual assault and left her seriously injured and fearing for her life. The film will be available during the Festival week, followed by a live virtual discussion with Marie and Ailbhe.
- The making of the theatre play “La mirada del otro” (Spain). This play is part of a trilogy, product of 10 years research, artistic and pedagogical work conducted by the collective Project 43-2. This specific theatre piece focuses on the restorative encounters between ETA dissidents and the families of their victims, presenting elements for transforming the conflict and promoting a culture of peace. The theatre director will share with us videos of "the making of" this theatre project.
- Film screening “A conversation” (Norway - Australia). The film is based on an Australian theatre performance telling the stories of two families who met in the presence of a facilitator, the parents of a young woman who was raped and murdered and the family of the offender. After the screening, the debate will include a (virtual) meeting with John McDonald, the real mediator who facilitated the encounter and played himself in the original Australian play, and Siw Risoy, the coordinator of the Norwegian "No Theatre" group.
- Film screening “The Worst Thing - To Germany, With Love” (USA – Germany). The film follows the restorative justice journey of Kathleen Pequeño, aided by restorative justice facilitator Annett Zupke. In the film, Kathleen travels several times to Germany to engage in dialogue with former members of the Red Army Faction, a violent leftist group responsible for her brother’s murder. The film demonstrates restorative justice practices in action, specifically focusing on surrogate dialogues. The virtual discussion after the screening will be with Kathleen, Annett and the film director Desireena Almoradie.
- Interactive documentary “Inside the distance” (USA). This documentary stages re-enactments about restorative justice encounters as described by victims, offenders and mediators. It explores the position of each party and the many ways in which these positions are fluid. The project was developed by professor and artist Sharon Daniel in cooperation with a series of Belgian partners who gave her access to victims and offenders who participated in a restorative justice process in order to conduct her research project. We will meet Sharon for a virtual discussion.
- Stories of justice, solidarity and repair (Europe). In Spring 2020, the EFRJ launched a campaign to collect stories and testimonies from people who participated in a restorative justice process, such as victims, survivors, perpetrators of harm and facilitators. Because of the pandemic crisis, the call will be extended also to restorative justice responses to specific conflict or crime situations occurring in this period and also to innovative practices (such as online mediation) developed to respond to the emergency and also to stories of solidarity related to justice-matters. The EFRJ cooperates with different artists to transform these stories in art exhibitions or performances.
- Board game by Guido Bertagna and Claudia Mazzucato (Italy). Guido , Jesuit priest, and Claudia, professor in criminal law at the Catholic university in Milan, are also the restorative justice facilitators of a group of former combatants from the Italian “years of lead” (Red Brigades), victims and young people that meet since almost 10 years. In order to explain this experience and restorative justice to teachers and parents (in El Salvador), they designed a board game entitled “A journey to discover the others” (a sort of Chutes and Ladders or Goose Game) with tests, obstacles, "up and down" and challenges.
- Photos and cartoons by the Parents Circle (Israel/ Palestina). Robi Demelin is the mother of an Israeli soldier who was shot by a Palestinian sniper (see the film “One day after peace”). Together with other Israeli and Palestinian parents who lived a similar experience because of the war between the two nations, she founded the Parents Circle. She proposes to exhibit the photo project “The Presence of the Void” made by ten Palestinian and Israeli bereaved women seeking to photograph the presence of their lost loved ones, and to give voice to the absence (this project has been exposed at the Willy Brandt House in Berlin). Robi also proposes the exhibition “Cartooning in Conflict” by the world’s best cartoonists including references to the absurdity of war and its tragic implications, and the “Portraits of members of the Parents Circle” made by a journalist for the New York Times.
- Book presentation “Het verdriet van Vlaanderen” by Kristien Hemmerechts (Belgium). This book presents the story of twin brothers Hein and Toon Van Den Brempt, ‘children of the collaboration’, through their parents’ experience of collaboration with the German occupiers during the Second World War. In addition, a dialogue session will involve some ‘children of the resistance’.
- Digital storytelling by De Rode Antraciet and Vorming Plus (Belgium). On the occasion of 500 years of Utopia, the city of Leuven launched YOUtopia, a broad participatory project for and by Leuven citizens and associations. Among others, two organisations, members of Leuven Restorative City, released 10 short films made by prisoners and victims in a digital storytelling initiative.
- Piano concert by Anna Maria Bordin and Grazia Mannozzi (Italy). Anna is a piano professor at the music conservatory of Genova and Grazia is a professor in criminal law and restorative justice at the university of Insubria in Como. Together, they propose a piano concert on the classics of Beethoven followed by some reflections on the links between restorative justice and arts. The year 2020, in fact, marks the 250 years since Beethoven’s birth: the cathartic, calming, peacemaking value of arts will be proposed as a real alternative to despair, loneliness and conflict within ourselves and within societies.
- Bookbinding and restorative justice by Gema Varona (Spain). Gema is a professor in victimology at the Basque Institute of Criminology. Using the art of bookbinding as metaphor for repairing and finding new ways for living together, Gema and her mother, bookbinder and historian, have created a book out of different pieces crafted in paper and cloth by participants of restorative justice programs in cases of terrorism in the Basque Country. In a short video, they will explain in few words the metaphor of bookbinding in relation to restorative justice while showing the book and its content.
- Art therapy exhibition by Marian Liebmann (UK). Marian is an art therapist and restorative justice facilitator, member of the city project “Bristol Restorative City”. She proposes a slide show of pictures of reparation art works and pictures done by offenders showing empathy with victims.
- Gift making by Claire Aldington (UK). Clair is a creative and a restorative practitioner in the final year of her PhD at Northumbria University, UK. Her doctoral research examines the role of design, gifting and solidarity within restorative justice processes. Clair has worked as an artist in diverse community settings, and as a creative and restorative practitioner with the Youth Offending Service in Oxford, England, and the Space2face restorative justice arts charity in Shetland, Scotland. Her presentation, exhibition and workshop will be findings and handmade artefacts from her PhD, including a series of Solidarity wrapping cloths, based on Japanese 'Furoshiki'. This will be an opportunity to explore creatively the potential role for gift making in engendering solidarities between participants in restorative justice processes.