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20 days to watch
38 Ratings

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

Directed by Brett Story
Canada, United States, 2016
  • English
  • English


In the United States there are 2.2 million people in prison, up from only 300,000 forty years ago, yet for most Americans, prisons have never felt more distant or more out of sight…

Our take

Sometimes the best way to accost a subject is to film the world around it. Distilling documentary form down to its essentials, Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes incisively excavates regions surrounding American prisons to unfurl how the system dismantles the freedom and lives of many.

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In her documentary, Story and director of photography Maya Bankovic fuse lush, lyrical imagery and a meditative pace to create a haunting examination of the prison system’s imprint on free society that is slow-moving but never idle. Story acts as silent cartographer, mapping the impact of the prison industrial complex onto American society and leaving new understandings of criminality, punishment, policing, and economics without employing a hardened didacticism.
April 21, 2017
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Brett Story powerfully rethinks America’s over-incarceration problem as a kind of mass disease that you can read in the scenery.
January 13, 2017
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Story’s 12-part structure is both an assertion and a vessel, and crucially the latter serves the former, allowing for both anecdote and essay, whisper and shout, without any of it reading as either a tonal or formal violation. Sometimes the formalism is rigorous, other times it’s vigorous, but regardless, subject is prioritized rather than the conceit itself.
April 22, 2016
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