PON Film Night: Seats at the Table

Event Date: Wednesday February 26, 2020
Time: 7:00-9:30 pm
Location: Langdell Hall South, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA

The Program on Negotiation and
the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project
at Harvard Law School are pleased to present:

Seats at the Table

A documentary film screening and discussion with:

Chris Farina
Kelsey Bowman, LCSW
and Film Subject

Moderated by:

Samantha Lakin
PON Graduate Research Fellow


Wednesday, February 26, 2020
7:00 PM

 Langdell Hall South, Harvard Law School
1545 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge

Free and open to the public; refreshments will be provided.


About the film:
Seats at the Table is a feature documentary film by Chris Farina (Rosalia Films) portraying a remarkable college class that connects university students with prisoners of a maximum security juvenile facility as they discuss classic works of Russian Literature. University of Virginia Lecturer Andrew Kaufman created the course, Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature and Leadership, and has been teaching it since 2010. The literature provides a point of reference whereby they can discuss their lives openly and honestly and learn from each other. Each group’s stereotypical views are replaced by a much more nuanced understanding of the other set of students as they form strong relationships which belie their original preconceptions. Both sets of students come away transformed by this singular educational experience, empowered to pursue lives of greater purpose and inspired by the discovery of their shared humanity. Through the power of film this seminal classroom experience has become an inspiration for educators, policy-makers and general audiences.

About the speakers:
Chris Farina is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, director, producer and writer. His films specialize in telling the stories of individuals whose contributions to their community have often gone unnoticed.

Among the subjects of Farina’s films are educators and the profound influence they have on their students. His most recent film, Seats at the Table, presents an educational portrait of a class that connects university students with residents of a maximum-security juvenile correctional center through the study of great works of Russian literature.

The award-winning film, World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements, showcased the life-changing work of Charlottesville teacher John Hunter who invented the now widespread World Peace Game to teach elementary school children about global relations. This film was broadcast on public television stations across the country, aired on television in several countries, and continues to be screened internationally.

Farina is a graduate of the University of Virginia (B.A., American Government) and American University (M.A, Communication – Producing for Film and Video). He has been president of Rosalia Films since 1995.

Kelsey Bowman is a Massachusetts native raised in Virginia who grew up wanting to become a school counselor. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with a B.S.Ed in Youth and Social Innovation with a second major in Psychology. While there, she had a few unique experiences that inspired her to become passionate about criminal justice reform and shifted her career focus, the most notable being her participation in the Russian literature course depicted in the film, Seats at the Table. She decided to pursue a Master’s in Social Work degree with a clinical concentration in health and mental health which she received from Boston College in August 2019. She is now working as a Licensed Certified Social Worker at a psychiatric day treatment program for adults with mental health and substance use disorders where she hopes to gain clinical experience so that she can one day provide mental health services to people who are incarcerated and work to make our criminal justice system more rehabilitative and treatment focused.

Samantha Lakin, is an advanced doctoral candidate at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, and a current Graduate Research Fellow at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. She holds a Master of Arts in International Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School, Tufts University. Samantha was a Fulbright scholar in Rwanda (2017-2018) and in Switzerland (2011-2012). Her research focuses on issues of memory and transitional justice in states and societies emerging from mass atrocities and genocide to peace.

Lakin has worked in the Great Lakes region of Africa since 2013, specifically in Rwanda. She founded the Department of Research, Policy, and Higher Education at Aegis Trust and the Kigali Genocide Memorial, has worked as a community consultant for the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation with the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda, as a Team Lead on action-based research about gender and corruption in Lubumbashi, DRC, and on research in Northern Uganda, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. Lakin served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), Kigali, and as a Transitional Justice Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies (NIOD) in Amsterdam. As an active public speaker and author on social justice issues, Samantha teaches students in MCI-Concord, a medium-security male prison, through the Emerson Prison Initiative and the Petey Greene  program.


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