Indiewire calls Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes a “composite portrait of a nation in which mass incarceration has infected every aspect of public life.”
That influence is so undeniable in the settings and perspectives the film portrays, we can feel it without ever entering a prison. We scarcely even see a wall or gate.
Interviewed in-depth by Filmmaker Magazine‘s Astra Taylor, Story discusses the decisions—creative, academic and emotional—that led her to this subject and her “genre subverting” approach to it:
“I’m a geographer in my other life, so I think a lot about space, and so at some point it occurred to me that there might be an opportunity in the prison’s geographic disappearance to make a film that would resituate where we think we can find the prison… to get away from the idea that prisons are just these buildings over there, that are ostensibly about keeping people safe from crime, and to suggest instead that the prison constitutes a broader system, one that is actually implicated and bears a relationship to or is borne out of all of the dynamics that take place in these ordinary spaces all around us. The hope was that by cinematically returning, so to speak, the prison to all of these outside spaces, the film might invite a very different way of thinking about prisons altogether.”
Read the complete Filmmaker interview here, and find The Prison in Twelve Landscapes Monday night on PBS as part of the award winning documentary showcase, Independent Lens (check local listings). After the broadcast the film will stream until May 22. It is available for educational licensing through Grasshoper Film.