The Separate System, a new collaborative commission, produced by veterans through workshops at HMP Liverpool and HMP Altcourse with artist Katie Davies and FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), has been chosen for consideration in the international competition for the 63rd Oberhausen International Short Film Festival in Germany from 11 until 16 May.

The exact number of former Armed Forces personnel in prison in Britain is at present unknown and figures are widely contested, but it is believed that the number represents ‘a significant subset of the adult male prison population and by occupation, potentially the largest’ (Howard League for Penal Reform (2011) Report of the Inquiry into Former Armed Service Personnel in Prison). With a move to now better recognise and support veterans within the criminal justice system, what does this identification mean for the individuals themselves?

The Separate System is a single channel cinematic film, investigating the distinct, yet interconnected, spaces of the military, custody and ‘civilian’ life, and will be screened at the film festival on Friday 12 May, introduced by Katie Davies and followed by a Q&A.

Katie says: “The film has been made in collaboration with veterans at HMP Altcourse and HMP Liverpool, exploring their experiences of serving, both in the military and criminal justice system. It was a real pleasure to work with these intelligent and creative men and I am glad that they will now have, if for a brief moment, the opportunity for their experiences to be heard by an international audience and we hope too, by the British Sovereign State.”

Emily Gee, FACT’s Communities Manager, says: “We are so proud that The Separate System has been selected for consideration in the competition. The screening of this collaboratively produced work to new, international audiences is testament to both the timely nature of the ideas and experiences captured in the piece and the power of the film that the veterans have created with Katie."

FACT in Liverpool has been working to produce creative projects with military veterans since 2012, through the Veterans in Practice programme. FACT’s work with veterans within the criminal justice system started in 2015, and saw artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy work with veterans at HMP Altcourse and HMP Liverpool, resulting in the short film FF Gaiden: Control.

The Separate System (2017) Katie Davies with Andy, Billy, Callum, Danny, Gaz, Gaz, Jay, Jonno, Mark, Mark, Paul, Rob and Trevor. Commissioned and produced by FACT. Supported by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.