Screening of Prison in Twelve Landscapes & Discussion with Director, Brett Story

Prison in 12 Landscapes

Join us for a screening of the critically acclaimed film, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes and a conversation with the director, Brett Story, herself a scholar of prisons and mass incarceration. The film explores the phenomenon of mass incarceration through 12 concise and creative vignettes. A meditation on the prison’s disappearance in the era of mass incarceration, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes unfolds as a journey through a series of ordinary places across the USA where prisons do work and affect lives: from a California mountainside where female prisoners fight the region's raging wildfires, to a congregation of chess players in Manhattan who did their time becoming masters of the game, to an Appalachian coal town betting its future on the promise of prison jobs. 

The film reflects on the phenomenon of U.S. mass-incarceration: 2.2 million people in prison, up from only 300,000 forty years ago. Yet as the film reveals, prisons have never felt more far away or more out of sight. Not only are prisons built further than ever from where most prisoners come from and where most people live, but journalists, filmmakers, and researchers are increasingly denied access to the world inside their walls. The film challenges common assumptions about where the penitentiary ends and the outside world begins, posing a new set of questions about what it is that the prison system does - opening up the possibility that the landscape could be otherwise.

Through screening and discussing the film, we hope to provide an opportunity to bridge art and science, through cross-school collaborations and conversations. This event will bring together students and faculty from the schools of Social Ecology, Humanities, the Arts, and Social Sciences.

The event has been made possible by Illuminations, the Humanities Commons, and the departments of Anthropology, Criminology, Law & Society, and Gender & Sexuality Studies.

Brett Story is a geographer and non-fiction filmmaker based out of Toronto and New York. Her films have screened at True/False, Oberhausen, Hot Docs, the Viennale, and Dok Leipzig, among other festivals.  Her second feature-length film, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes  (2016) was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Colin Low Prize for Best Canadian Documentary at the DOXA Documentary Festival, and a Special Jury Mention at the Camden International Film Festival. The film will be broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2017. Brett holds a PhD in geography from the University of Toronto and is currently a SSHRC postdoctoral research fellow at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Her journalism and film criticism have appeared in such outlets as CBC Radio, The Nation Magazine, and Antipode, and she is currently completing a book manuscript, to be published by the University of California Press, titled The Prison Out of Place. She was the recipient of the Documentary Organization of Canada Institute’s 2014 New Visions Award, and the 2016 Governor General’s Gold Medal from the University of Toronto for academic excellence. Brett was recently named a 2016-2017 Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellow.

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