World Peace Film Festival SelectionRichmond International Film FestivalSXSW EDUHebden Bridge Film Festival


SEATS AT THE TABLE – long trailer

Seats at the Table is a feature documentary film that depicts a unique college class which brings together university students with residents of a maximum-security juvenile correctional center through the study of Russian literature. These student-to-student interactions become the catalyst for creating powerful relationships that break down the initial stereotypes they have as they begin this class. Both groups 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.

University of Virginia Lecturer Andrew D. Kaufman founded the course Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature and Leadership in 2009. Having spent years with John Hunter, the subject of my documentary World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements, I was once again truly moved by another example of the unlimited potential that arises from the relationship between a masterful and compassionate teacher and his engaged students when I first observed Kaufman’s class. Seats at the Table presents another remarkable example of the importance of experiential learning. My hope is that this film will truly inspire and teach others to consider replicating this example as a model for their own communities.

For more information about Books Behind Bars please visit:

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“Seats at the Table” is a poignant and important film that illuminates the bond that can develop among young people having a shared experience – in this case, college students and young men in a correctional center studying Russian literature. The film is an excellent catalyst for discussion on empathy and human rights, and a wonderful tribute to an imaginative and trail-blazing teacher.”

Susan Hackley
Managing Director of Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation which hosted a screening February 26, 2020

“Seats at the Table is an incredibly impactful film that breaks down societal and pedagogical stereotypes, and makes us rethink the way in which we navigate education in the juvenile-justice system. I cannot recommend this film more for anyone and everyone who wants to witness the transformative power of educational accessibility and a teacher who wants to make a difference.”

Kat Stidham
SXSW | SXSW EDU Festival Programming Specialist

“When we screened Seats at the Table at A.R.E. Headquarters, the crowd was mesmerized, holding its collective breath, watching this true story unfold.  To see Professor Kaufman and his young college students move out of their comfortable classroom into a maximum-security juvenile correctional facility to conduct a 10-week class on Russian literature, and to see their continual surprise as the young people – inmates and visitors alike – discovered similarities, rather than differences, in their lives, brought many in the audience to tears. This inspirational story of transformation and shared humanity is a moving testament that love and acceptance are key ingredients in helping a human being want to change enough to actually do it.  Filmed with sensitivity and grace, “Seats at the Table,” will stay with you long after the viewing.  It plants a seed of hope for the future so essential for each of us.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

Judith Stevens
Founder, A.R.E. Prison Outreach Program

“Seats at the Table challenges some common misconceptions about correctional policy and about college students and their appetite to tackle challenging topics. As a result, it is a valuable experience for different audiences and a spark for important conversations about both higher education and incarcerated Americans. That’s why this film has resonance and value outside the education community and should be disseminated more broadly.”

Andy Rotherham
Co-Founder Bellwether Education Partners

“By juxtaposing our prejudices and our responsibility to a just society, while challenging our notions of ethics and security, through this inspiring film the director and producer Chris Farina is offering us a mandatory educational tool, which presents an excellent starting point for several interesting classroom discussions.”

Jasmina Bojic
Founder and Festival Director, UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival)

Financial donations for this project are tax-deductible.

Fundraising is being conducted to cover the costs of creating this film and sharing it with the wider world. All contributions would be most appreciated.

Photo by Will May
Photo by Will May
Photo by Will May



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