About the Doc
What happens to people who suffer from mental illnesses and commit violent crimes? Some are sent to forensic psychiatric hospitals - once called asylums for the criminally insane - where they disappear from public view for years. Emmy award-winning filmmaker John Kastner gained unprecedented access to one such facility, the Brockville Mental Health Centre. He follows the treatment of patients struggling to gain control over their lives, so they can return to a society that often fears and demonizes them.
Meet the Filmmaker
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 2012, Hot Docs honoured him with a retrospective of his work. In 2007 he was honoured by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television with its Achievement Award.
His most recent films, NCR: Not Criminally Responsible (2013) and "Out of Sight ,Out of Mind" have been hailed by mental health and criminal justice professionals as a ground-breaking portrait of forensic psychiatric patients.
"Life with Murder" (2010), 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 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. Recently, the Cinematheque Quebecoise in Montreal ran a retrospective of his work.