A beautiful friendship between two young girls – Jasma, a female prisoner in Chicago and Maëlle, a French student living in Melbourne, through pen pal letters.
‘Jasma’ tells the inspiring story of Jasma, a young female prisoner incarcerated in Illinois from the day she receives an unknown letter from the other side of the world. Maëlle tells us how she found Jasma early last year when looking for a pen pal and finding her on a prison pen pal website.
The film opens with Maëlle going into a bookstore to buy a book for a friend’s birthday – we later find out it is for Jasma. The story unravels and we see Maëlle and Jasma learning about each other and becoming closer and closer in each letter. When everything seems to separate them, we witness the start of a beautiful friendship, with an exciting potential call from Jasma after Maëlle was put on Jasma’s prison phone list. The letters are narrated by an actor (Sophia Eftimiades) and they drive the film with their contents.
I have always been interested in all forms of Media and I believe that by mixing different forms of art such as visuals, sounds, narration, you can create a powerful piece. I wanted to create a film that touches people, but also and mainly a film that has something positive to say. The idea of sharing a story that has not been heard before is exciting.
This short documentary has so far and by far been one of my biggest challenges. I knew from the start that making a documentary about someone I cannot access to and directly talk to was not going to be easy but it turns out that it was not the most challenging part.
What I struggled the most with, was finding a structure and being both, behind and in front of the camera. Dealing with my face and voice during hours of editing was annoying, frustrating and the fact that I am also so close to the topic/subject made it even more difficult.
The film is indeed very personal and I am sharing intimate moments between Jasma and I. I am emotionally opening to the audience in hope that they will be receptive and touched by the story. This film challenged me and also taught me a lot, both technically and emotionally.
Jasma is intended for audience of all ages. Younger audiences might be more receptive and attracted to it as Jasma is young and from the same generation but it is a film that aims to touch everyone, with its simplicity and total honesty.
Maëlle Raluy – Director
Maëlle Raluy is a 21 year old student from Melbourne RMIT University finishing her degree in Media and Communication at the end of 2016. Born in New-Caledonia, her passion for documentaries started at an early age and was confirmed when she got offered an internship with the Centre de Documentation Pédagogique, making weekly educational short documentaries for New-Caledonia’s first TV Channel NC1ère in 2013. Maëlle moved to Melbourne in May 2014 to follow her passion for documentaries and enrolled at RMIT University in Cinema Studies. This short documentary is her first film – it explores her friendship with a female inmate in Chicago, United States.