By a strange process of synchronicity, docs about prisoners putting on plays have been flooding festivals. Croatia’s “Facing the Day,” set in the country’s main penitentiary of Lepoglava, is a medium-range effort, fascinating more for its subject than the nervous DV camera and Ivona Juka’s unfocused direction. Following the diverse thoughts and jail lives of two murderers and one man serving time for armed robbery, Juka attempts to understand these social outcasts. Pic looks primarily like small fest material.
Psychological sketches of the cons are the main thing; their chaotic, often funny rehearsals of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” seem like an excuse to gain access to the incarcerated actors. Significantly, there is only a bare hint of the genre’s characteristic payoff — a final performance. The momentum comes out of the well-chosen subjects. Tuljo (aka Tomislav Brgles) is an amusingly wired thief; Dalibor Zanne, who killed his girlfriend’s lover, paints; and Maki (Josip Markic), an apparently reformed hit man, now assists a Catholic priest. Dominated by a whipping, hand-held camera and jumpy editing, the film badly needs some stillness and framing to let auds reflect on what is shown.