evil or just ill?
NCR: NOT CRIMINALLY RESPONSIBLE
by multi-award winning filmmaker John Kastner
and thought-provoking documentary
comes to CBC for a world broadcast premiere on
DOC ZONE | October 17, 2013 | 9:00 PM ET
an Exclusive Expanded Festival version
premieres on documentary | Oct. 20, 2013 | 8:00 PM
“Masterful”- This Magazine
“A unique film…unprecedented access” — The Guardian Magazine (UK)
“…moving and powerful film.” – Marc Glassman, Classical 96.3
(Toronto – September 17, 2013) When horrific crimes are committed by people with mental disorders, when does compassion end and public outrage take over?
Another riveting story by four-time Emmy-winning documentarian John Kastner, NCR: Not Criminally Responsible is a ground-breaking, multifaceted look at a side of the justice system angrily dismissed by tough-on-crime types as a “get out of jail free card.”
Kastner was granted unprecedented access to the mental health system in this unforgettable tale of a psychiatric patient, struggling to rebuild a life after engaging in a stabbing frenzy on orders from “The Devil.” It’s a stunning portrait of a man who attempts to re-integrate into the community, but cannot escape the wrath of his unforgiving victims.
The documentary premieres Thursday, Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. ET on CBC TV’s Doc Zone. An expanded festival version will premiere Sunday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. on documentary.
The linchpin for NCR: Not Criminally Responsible is Sean Clifton, whose savage knife attack on a stranger in a shopping mall – in front of scores of witnesses – was attributed to “the devil” telling him to stab “the prettiest girl in the mall.” His victim survived, traumatized, but relieved at his incarceration in a mental institution. But now that he is out, his victim’s family is determined to force him to remain under the hospital’s control.
Kastner’s cameras follow Clifton through a dramatic treatment program and the release process. In an intense 18-month round of filming, the director captured the lives and words of 44 patients and 75 staff at the Brockville Mental Health Centre.
Indeed, the scope of interviews and footage was so voluminous, Kastner spun off a second feature-length documentary, Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight, to be telecast on TVOntario in 2014.
“It’s a ground-breaker,” Kastner says. “For the first time in Canada, a film unravels the mystery of what happens to patients with mental disorders who commit terrible acts of violence. We hear about these awful cases, such as the so-called “Bus Be-header,” and then they disappear. They are hidden from public view in forensic psychiatric hospitals — what used to be called asylums for the criminally insane.
“And they deliberately keep us in the dark. The authorities have not allowed camera crews into any Canadian forensic mental institution – at least not in any significant way – for decades.
“What goes on in these places? How do forensic psychiatrists treat psychiatric patients who commit serious crimes of violence? And can they be fixed?”
At last, the closed doors are opened, at the Brockville Mental Health Centre. “The BMHC decided to stop the hiding and gave us incredible access,” Kastner says. “We followed some patients through the treatment process inside the hospital and others as they returned to the street – with all the public safety issues that raises.”
About John Kastner:
One of Canada’s most acclaimed documentary-makers, John Kastner has won four Emmys and five Emmy nominations, more than any individual in the history of Canadian television. The honours were for his feature-length documentaries LIFE WITH MURDER, FOUR WOMEN, FIGHTING BACK and THE LIFER AND THE LADY. In 2007 he was honoured by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television with its Achievement Award. His most recent film, LIFE WITH MURDER, produced in co-production with the National Film Board, focuses on parents struggling to reconcile with their son after he murders his sister. As well as an Emmy, the film won Canada’s Donald Brittain Gemini for Best Documentary, gold and silver Hugo awards at the Chicago Film Festival, and several other awards including a Special Jury Prize at the Houston International Film Festival. His previous documentary, MONSTER IN THE FAMILY — a 2-part film for CTV about an offender’s war with his mother who is campaigning to keep him locked up for life — won the same award, among others. His films have been screened at major film festivals including Berlin, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Sheffield and, of course, Hot Docs. Although documentaries are his first love, Kastner has produced, directed, written or performed in nearly every genre of television programming in his long and varied broadcasting career. He began producing at age 21 and his list of credits, (described as “staggering” by Maclean’s magazine in 1981) range from quiz shows (PHOTO FINISH) to current affairs confrontation shows (UNDER ATTACK); from Candid Camera-type segments (90 MINUTES LIVE, STREET COMEDY) to comedies with children (the CTV comedy series JUST KIDDING). His films have won top honours from professionals in the fields he specializes in, criminal justice and health. His two cancer documentaries, Four Women and Fighting Back, both won the Grand Prize at the International Red Cross Festival of Health and Medical Films in Varna, Bulgaria. His films on correctional themes have won numerous professional awards including the American Probation and Parole Association’s Responsibility in Media Award as well as the Justicia Award, Canada’s top prize for legal journalism presented to him by Canada’s Department of Justice and the Canadian Bar Association.
NCR: Not Criminally Responsible was produced by JS Kastner Productions in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada, and in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and documentary. It was also made possible with the participation of CMF, Rogers Documentary Fund Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.
Director: John Kastner
Producer: Deborah Parks
Producer and Executive Producer: Silva Basmajian
Editor: Michael Hannan
Directors of Photography: John Westheuser CSC | Derek Rogers CSC
Production Executives for CBC: Mark Starowicz, Michael Claydon
Creative Head, documentary: Bruce Cowley