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The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 9:00pm

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

Brett Story | 
Canada |
 2016 | 
90 minutes

Brett Story’s film essay possesses a quiet power that is all the more affecting for its restraint and sorrow. In stories and images collected from across the US, the experiences of people directly impacted by the prison industrial complex are fashioned into a searing indictment of systemic injustice. By way of introduction, is a radio call-in show filled with messages of love and support from the families and friends of men and women behind bars. We never see an actual prison, but what we do see is the blast fields they create in families and communities. The residual wounds in the people themselves are not always immediately apparent. A chess player in Washington Square explains how he learned the game in prison as a means of making money. Against the cool grey beauty of Eastern Kentucky, people talk about how the federal prison became the only employer after the coal companies left town. In Marin County, a former inmate proudly narrates her experience of being a volunteer firefighter. As the scale of injustice slowly reveals itself, pathos and absurdity combine into a Kafkaesque reality, whether it’s the safety of music cassettes in prisons (no screws allowed) or parking tickets that are used to target the poorest, most vulnerable people. There is an enormous sense of loss at the centre of the film — a void that radiates with grief, pain, and long-banked rage. -DW

Brett Story has made a potent political film without having to spray viewers with a fusillade of alarming numbers to back it up. She trusts viewers to intuit their way through fascinating anecdotes and detours that gain a cumulative power, one that data alone cannot possibly express. -VARIETY


Brett Story

Brett Story is a non­fiction filmmaker based out of Toronto and New York. Her first feature ­length film, the award­-winning Land of Destiny (2010), screened internationally and was broadcast on both Canadian and American television. She was the recipient of the Documentary Organization of Canada Institute’s 2014 New Visions Award, and her films have been screened at film festivals internationally, including True/False, Hot Docs, the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.