The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

A meditation on the prison’s disappearance in era of mass incarceration, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes is a journey across America where prisons affect lives.

man and boy playing chess at a park
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
May 8, 2017
60 minutes
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival-Special Jury Award - Canadian Feature
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 DOXA Documentary Film & Video Festival-Best Female Directed Film
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 DOXA Documentary Film & Video Festival-The Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary
  • Director

    Brett Story

    Brett Story is a geographer and non-fiction filmmaker based out of Toronto and New York. Her films have screened at True/False, Oberhausen, Hot Docs, the Viennale, and Dok Leipzig, among other festivals. Her second feature-length film, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016) was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Hot Docs Canadian International Show more Documentary Festival and was a nominee for Best Canadian Feature Documentary at the Canadian Screen Awards. The film was broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in April of 2017. Brett holds a PhD in geography from the University of Toronto and is the author of a non-fiction book, The Prison Out of Place, forthcoming from the University of California Press in 2018. She was the recipient of the Documentary Organization of Canada Institute’s 2014 New Visions Award and the 2016 Governor General’s Gold Medal from the University of Toronto for academic excellence. Brett was a 2016 Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellow. Show less

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    The Film

    More people are imprisoned in the United States at this moment than in any other time or place in history, yet prisons have never felt further away or more out of sight. The Prison in Twelve Landscapes excavates the hidden geographies of the modern prison system by offering a film about the prison in which we never see an actual penitentiary. Instead, it journeys through a series of seemingly ordinary landscapes across America, for a series of surprising discoveries: a California mountainside where female prisoners fight raging wildfires; a warehouse full of boxer shorts and specially sanction cassette tapes; a park with ex-incarcerated chess players; an abandoned coalfield; and a host of other unexpected spaces.