At a prison in the high desert foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, hardened criminals are taught the training methods of ‘horse whisperers’ and given 90 days to tame wild mustangs taken from the herd that roams government lands. Failure means one more defeat for the inmate; success could save both lives. Most of the inmates who volunteer for this unique rehabilitation program have never ridden a horse before.
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 gripping documentary takes a powerful look at the lives of people with substance use disorder in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Filmmaker Veronica Alice Mannix follows Constable Al Arsenault and six other police officers on their daily beat, documenting their unique relationships with people who speak candidly about their painful past experiences, their drug addiction, and life on the street.
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.
In To Kill a Tiger, Ranjit, a farmer in Jharkhand, India, takes on the fight of his life when he demands justice for his 13-year-old daughter, the survivor of sexual assault. In India, where a rape is reported every 20 minutes and conviction rates are less than 30 percent, Ranjit’s decision to support his daughter is virtually unheard of, and his journey unprecedented.
This feature documentary by Alanis Obomsawin is a thoughtful tribute to Norman Cornett, a McGill University professor celebrated by scores of students appreciative of his unconventional yet powerful teaching methods who was controversially dismissed from his teaching duties in 2007.
In this documentary shot at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa during a troop deployment to Afghanistan, children and teens talk about the particular circumstances of having soldiers as parents.
Directed by Claire Corriveau, Children of Soldiers lifts the veil on a reality shared by thousands of young Canadians, and on the difficulty of finding a balance between loyalty to the troops and staying true to themselves.
This short documentary offers an Indigenous perspective on the devastating experience of searching for a loved one who has disappeared. Volunteer activist Kyle Kematch and award-winning writer Katherena Vermette have both survived this heartbreak and share their histories with each other and the audience. While their stories are different, they both exemplify the beauty, grace, resilience, and activism born out of the need to do something.
This short documentary follows Montreal filmmaker Eylem Kaftan as she travels to Turkey in an attempt to unravel the 30-year-old mystery of her aunt Guzide's murder. As she searches for clues and closure, she encounters antiquated customs in a Kurdish culture she's never known. She knows that her aunt was the victim of a senseless vendetta killing and as she ventures from village to village she pieces together the woman’s final days and closes in on the identity of her killer. Vendetta Song is produced by DLI Productions in co-production with the NFB.
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.