This feature documentary profiles four residents of the Brockville Mental Health Centre, a forensic psychiatric hospital for people who have committed violent crimes. Four patients—two men and two women—struggle to gain control over their lives so they can return to a society that often fears and demonizes them. Shrouded in stigma, institutions like this one are places into which patients disappear from public view for years.
Four-time Emmy winner John Kastner was granted unprecedented access to the Brockville facility for 18 months, allowing 46 patients and 75 staff to share their experiences with stunning frankness.
For more background information on this film, please visit the NFB.ca blog.
Directed by John Kastner, this feature documentary about violence, mental illness, and the rights of victims tells the story of a troubled young man who stabbed a complete stranger 6 times in a crowded shopping mall while gripped by psychosis. Twelve years later, his victim, who miraculously survived, is terrified to learn that he’s out, living in the community under supervision. He’s applying for an absolute discharge, and if he succeeds, he’ll no longer be required to take the anti-psychotic drugs that control his mental illness. With unprecedented access to the patient, the victim, and the mental institution, the film looks at both sides of the debate and puts a human face on the complex ethical issues raised.
This feature documentary offers an intimate portrait of living with bipolar disorder. Filmmaker Pierre Goupil (Celui qui voit les heures, La vérité est un mensonge) reveals his uneasy relationship with his illness and his journey as an artist in a society that struggles to accept those on the fringe. A product of the 1960s intellectual scene, Goupil continues to question the world and fight for global solidarity. The Wind at My Door celebrates life amid suffering, while reaffirming the importance of social ties and political commitment. An ode to the freedom of individuals over the powers that would enslave them, Goupil's film acknowledges both the terrible winter and the long-awaited spring of renewed creation.
This feature documentary by renowned director and cinematographer Vic Sarin is a personal yet global investigation into the history and current state of colourism: the discrimination within one ethnicity based on differences in skin tone. Sarin travels the globe to discuss this complex cross-cultural social issue with individuals whose lives it affects, including a Filipina entrepreneur whose business has flourished within the billion-dollar skin-whitening industry. Hue leads viewers on a thoughtful and surprising journey to the heart of a painful and pervasive social issue that not only polices appearance, but also class, gender, and geography.
An illustration of the rather unique way in which the day hospital of the Allan Memorial Institute in Montréal helps patients back to mental and emotional health. Patients not requiring full hospitalization come for daytime treatment and return to their homes at night. The case presented is that of a young woman who is under severe emotional stress. Interviews with a psychiatrist and group therapy sessions reveal the root of her trouble and set her on the path to overcoming her problem.
This feature-length documentary from Inuvialuit filmmaker Dennis Allen is an emotional and revealing exploration of addiction among Indigenous people in Canada.After years of struggle and shame, 5 Indigenous Canadians bravely come forward with their stories of substance abuse, presenting the sensitive topic of alcoholism in an honest and forthright manner. Alex, Paula, Desirae, Stephen, and Dennis himself maintain a deep and devoted commitment to their traditional culture to achieve long-term sobriety. Through their voices, this insightful doc offers an inspirational beacon of hope for others.
This feature documentary takes us through the twists and turns of judicial proceedings pitting Canadian mining companies Barrick Gold and Banro against author Alain Deneault, his co-writers and publisher Éditions Écosociété, following the 2008 release of the book Noir Canada, which raised troubling questions about the controversial practices of Canadian mining companies in Africa. Silence is Gold is a legal and political thriller that captures years of intense psychological tension.
This short documentary is a fascinating portrait of the Vancouver Mental Patients' Association (MPA), a unique, democratically-organized advocacy and support group for people who have sought care in the mental health system. While client-centred care and advocacy in mental health are relatively more common now, they were unfamiliar concepts in the 1970s, and this film sheds light on the birth of this nascent movement. The MPA provides support and a space for discussion, which helps those dealing with mental health problems to re-integrate into their communities after sojourns in hospitals or other institutions. Members' comments afford some insight into what has been called the "mental health industry."
WARNING: This film discusses the topic of OCD. Viewer discretion is advised.
This feature documentary explores the daily lives of individuals living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a misunderstood anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts, nagging fears and ritualistic behaviour. From the outside, its sufferers have no physical disabilities and have every appearance of being as functional as the next person. But inside, a daily war is waged for survival.
In this feature documentary, Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie continue in the same provocative vein as their earlier Forest Alert, this time turning their lens on Canada's mining industry. Using striking images, rare archival footage and interviews, The Hole Story analyzes company profits and the impact of mining on the environment and workers’ health.
This feature documentary follows Canadian actress Babz Chula to Kerala, India, where she is to undergo treatment by a renowned Ayurvedic healer in an effort to manage her 6-year battle with cancer. The bare-bones Indian clinic at first disappoints, but Babz is uplifted as her condition seemingly shows marked signs of improvement following treatment and introspection. Returning home, however, it is revealed that her cancer has actually advanced. Amazingly, the irrepressible actress invites filmmaker Anne Wheeler to continue bearing witness to her journey into the unknown.
Ages 18 to None
Health/Personal Development - Mental Health/Stress/Suicide
Media Education - Documentary Film
Social Studies - Social Policies and Programs
Ideal for essays and debates on the justice system and mental health. To what degree is society responsible for criminals with mental illness? How does your opinion of the subjects in this film change as you watch it? Is justice a matter of incarcerating people or rehabilitating them? Research the history of mental health and criminality. How have our perspectives changed over time? How does the filmmaker feel about this institution and its patients? How does he communicate this?