Documentary maker Linda Kallistová Jablonská looked at the three girls who left the Počátky Institute of Education near Pelhřimov with an ongoing apprenticeship for ten years. They changed housing, jobs and partners, they couldn’t cope with life because no one taught them. “My heroines have done even better, the girls of the trap are often confronted with drugs, prostitution and homelessness”, says the author of the film Leaving the Beginnings.
“Beginnings? I only came here because of the name. They gave me the choice between Kostomlata or Počátky. So I chose Počátky as if something new was starting”, explains Adéla in the documentary Leaving Počátky on the girls of the local educational institution. When he says Kostomlaty’s name, “Bone Breaker” will appear in English subtitles.
There is an educational institution in Počátky, in the region of which children can also complete their primary and secondary education. They leave after reaching the age of eighteen or after passing the final exams at the local vocational secondary school. They place children from unstable families who run away from home, other establishments or who have serious problems of school absenteeism.
In 2011, director Linda Kallistová Jablonská cast local inmates Pavel, Denis and Adéla, despite being seventeen years old and having one last year in the facility. She then watched them with a camera for the next ten years and created a time-lapse documentary. “I was fascinated by their temperament, their natural intelligence and their spirit”, explains the director.
The film won the Student Jury Prize in the Czech Joy category at the 2021 Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. It is currently competing at the One World festival in the Czech competition category. When the protagonists of the film leave, they confide that they absolutely do not want to repeat the mistakes of their parents and that their wish is an ordinary but happy life.
A global festival 2022
The 24th One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival already has the path to freedom as its theme. “It draws attention to the places where things happen that shake the world of human rights and wants to remind how fragile freedom and democracy are”, specify the organizers. This year, the festival offers 80 documentaries and six films in virtual reality. There are also films of international renown, presented in prestigious foreign festivals. The festival, in cooperation with the Documentary Film Institute, will also support Ukrainian filmmakers with specially added screenings. The full program of the One World festival here.
In the morning at school, then in the evening at work
Adela says she was nine years old when her mother and little brother took her on foot for several kilometers to school. Then the policeman’s car stopped and the children were taken away with the social worker and the mother. Since then, Adela has lived in various institutions across the country. She escaped from the latter and when she was captured she was taken to an institution in Počátky. “I don’t have my mother in the picture, I don’t remember much of her life. I lived in the orphanage from nine to sixteen. From seventeen I live here in a school pedagogical in Počátky,” said the girl.
She was trained as a cook and thought as she passed the cooking test, “I have no idea what food and stuff is there. They give us everything here and pay for it. that.” This shows how completely unprepared the clients of children’s homes and educational institutions are to live outside. That is why they meet them very often.
Adela does not want to fail in her life like her mother or her grandmother. He wants to finish his studies, work and start a happy family. | Photo: One World Festival
After obtaining an apprenticeship certificate, Adéla left the establishment and headed for the intermediate house, a type of establishment that offers accommodation services to people under the age of 26 who had left school. facility or protective environment. In addition to housing, they provide them with basic social services, including orientation advice. The goal is a successful start to a new life.
Of all the girls on camera, Adela is the most determined and conscientious. She worked halfway through the cafe, which is a place for children coming out of children’s homes. To do this, she tried to study commerce in a vocational high school and is also considering a bartending course. “Children usually involve their parents in something. I don’t have anyone next to me, I’m alone, I have a goal and I’m pursuing it. It makes me even happier,” he says with satisfaction.
However, the pattern where she studies in the morning and works from the afternoon to ten o’clock at night is proving unsustainable. She had several fives on the first ballot. So she temporarily interrupted her work and devoted herself to school, and for the third time she managed to graduate.
She tried to support her brother when he left the children’s home at the age of eighteen. “I put all my things in a bag during my thirteen years of childhood. When I saw them on the bed, I had to cry,” he says.
“We just got together and went to the bathroom”
Twins Denis and Pavla were taken from the family between the ages of three and six – the father was in prison, the mother did not take care of them and left them alone at home. Then the children returned from the orphanage to the care of their father. When they were fifteen, they ran away because they couldn’t stand their stepmother, who had serious mental health issues and constantly argued with their father.
“One day, Denisa just said, ‘Come on, let’s go to the bathroom, put us in the doll, and we’ll be fine,’” says Paul. When her father returned home, he did not find the children there. They never came back here, only came a few times for a short visit.
After obtaining an apprenticeship certificate, they leave the institute for a transition house in Chotěboř, where social workers are at their disposal, who try to integrate them into their work.
The director of the documentary Leaving the Beginnings went there regularly to visit them and ask them what was new. The two girls always replied, “We hang out together, as always. – “Well, what else? It’s terribly boring.” Either they refused the work offered to them by the authorities, or they did not last long. “I already had a job. I stayed there for three days, then I stopped enjoying it, so I didn’t go there anymore,” Pavla confesses.
From left to right: Denisa, Kristýna with her son and Pavla. | Photo: Vernes/One World
“The girls have spent crucial years in an institution, they are not ready for real life, they do not have the necessary social connection. In addition, from morning to evening, the educators had a completely organized day to do”, explains Director Kallist.
Denisa finally began to take job offers seriously and tried to work – in a call center, in a biscuit factory, in a meat processing plant.… In her private life, both girls sometimes lived with a girlfriend, sometimes with a boyfriend. After five years of filming, Denisa refused to participate in the time-lapse documentary, saying that the filming did not bring her anything anymore and that she did not like it.
So the director contacted her old friend Kristýna, an adopted girl who knew Denisa from the Pedagogical Institute in Počátky. When Kallist contacted her, she was living with a partner, they had a son together and she was about to shoot the Mail for You. “It came to me as a sign that there is a way to focus on Týnek,” says the documentary filmmaker.
We haven’t eaten in a week
During one of the principal’s visits, Kristýna was expecting a “social worker” and had nothing to cook for her two-year-old son. On another visit, she followed him to the burn center because he fell into a fire near his campfire.
“As long as it was just the girls themselves, I didn’t get in on the action, maybe I just encouraged them to try another job. But when they already had kids and there were delicate situations, as if they had nothing to eat, I intervened a little”, admits the director, adding that sometimes Kristýna also sent a parcel of food or lent money.
During one of the performances in front of the camera, the girl announced: “We haven’t eaten for a week now, everything goes to debt and rent.” However, when she calculated all the expenses on the director’s initiative, she discovered that she would spend 2,700 crowns a month on cigarettes alone. However, she had nowhere to learn how to manage properly. She was taken from her mother immediately after giving birth, she passed from the infantile institution to her adoptive parents, whom she fled, until she found herself in an educational institution. She first saw her birth mother as an adult on Mail for You.
Kristýna with her son in the burn centre. | Photo: Vernes/One World
All of the film’s protagonists have hundreds of thousands of debts they can’t get out of. According to the manager, they spent on unnecessary things like an expensive cell phone or designer shoes, took out an unfavorable loan for them, and started accumulating interest on them. Most of their salary goes directly to repaying their loans, which leaves them with a minimum.
Hope is given by the story of Adela, who raises a son with a companion twenty years her senior and releases satisfaction from her. And also the determination not to get into trouble like his parents and grandparents. “She can do it, she’s tough on herself,” said her mother. Adela remains determined even when she learns that her son has a mental illness, likely autism. In the end, Pavel and Denis, who work in an auto parts factory, also have permanent jobs.
Linda Kallistová Jablonská says that during the ten years of filming, she saw in the fate of her heroines more hope than despair, because girls who leave educational institutions often turn out to be even worse. “We come across drugs, prostitution, homelessness among trap girls. So my foursome did well and they’re relatively happy,” he added. His film aims to make audiences understand how difficult it is to start from scratch and how incomparably easier it is for most members of society to have “family, friends, material and psychological support ” behind the back.