The Canadian Criminal Justice System (Ages 18+)

The Canadian Criminal Justice System (Ages 18+)

Themes & Subjects
-Law, legal systems, criminal justice, justice, criminology
-Discrimination, racism, prejudice

Crime and justice take many forms—some seemingly cut and dry while others are more involved and complex. This selection of films examines the issues from all aspects and perspectives, ranging from that of incarcerated teenagers to a family struck by grief at the actions of one of their own.

Films in This Playlist Include
Conviction
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up
Waseskun
Kids in Jail
Life with Murder
Out of Mind, Out of Sight
NCR: Not Criminally Responsible
Because We Are Girls

  • Conviction
    campus 2019 | 1 h 18 min

    Conviction envisions alternatives to prison through the eyes of women behind bars and those fighting on the front lines of the decarceration movement.

  • nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up
    2019|1 h 38 min

    On August 9, 2016, a young Cree man named Colten Boushie died from a gunshot to the back of his head after entering Gerald Stanley’s rural property with his friends. The jury’s subsequent acquittal of Stanley captured international attention, raising questions about racism embedded within Canada’s legal system and propelling Colten’s family to national and international stages in their pursuit of justice. Sensitively directed by Tasha Hubbard, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up weaves a profound narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own adoption, the stark history of colonialism on the Prairies, and a vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands. See the 52-minute version here.

  • Waseskun
    2016|1 h 21 min

    Filmed in cinéma vérité style, this feature-length doc follows a group of incarcerated men with troubled pasts as they undergo treatment based on Indigenous philosophy at the Waseskun Healing Center. Director Steve Patry spent a full year with these men, gaining their trust and confidence. The result is a remarkable and gripping film about learning to overcome suffering and finding balance.

  • Kids in Jail
    2013|45 min

    With unprecedented access, this documentary paints an intimate, complex portrait of kids in jail. The film raises difficult yet vital questions about at-risk youth and young offenders, and asks: Should we be doing more to help them?

  • Life with Murder
    2009 | 1 h 35 min

    When their son is accused of murdering his sister, a mother and father face perhaps the most awful decision any parent could have to make: whether to break with their son or accept him back into the family. With astonishing footage shot over a ten-year period, from minutes after the crime was committed to the present, the film follows the family's evolving relationships.

    For more background information on this film, please visit the NFB.ca blog. Click here for a special DVD pricing on all of our John Kastner films: Life with Murder, NCR: Not Criminally Responsible and Out of Mind, Out of Sight.

  • Out of Mind, Out of Sight
    2014|1 h 27 min

    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.

  • NCR: Not Criminally Responsible
    2013|1 h 39 min

    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.

  • Because We Are Girls
    2019|1 h 25 min

    A conservative Indo-Canadian family in small-town British Columbia must come to terms with a devastating secret: three sisters were sexually abused by an older relative beginning in their childhood years. After remaining silent for nearly two and a half decades, the sisters finally decide to come forward—not only to protect other young relatives, but to set an example for their daughters as well.