The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

About the Film

In the United States there are 2.2 million people in prison, up from only 300,000 forty years ago, yet for most Americans, prisons have never felt more distant or more out of sight. A cinematic journey through a series of seemingly ordinary American landscapes, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes excavates the hidden world of the modern prison system and explores lives outside the gates affected by prisons.

By examining the impact of mass incarceration from outside the prison walls, the film takes us to unexpected locations from a California mountainside where female prisoners fight raging wildfires, to a Bronx warehouse with goods destined for the state correctional system, to a rural Kentucky mining town that now depends on the local penitentiary for jobs. The film visits two communities – Baltimore and St. Louis County, Missouri – bristling from racially motivated violence and rising tensions between African American communities and police, where we meet a Missouri woman who ends up in jail because she didn’t put her garbage bin lid on properly. And in New York, we meet a formerly incarcerated chess player and join family members on a dark street corner waiting for the bus to Attica.  

The Filmmaker

Brett Story is a writer and independent nonfiction 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 first feature-length film, the award-winning Land of Destiny (2010), was broadcast on both Canadian and American television. The Prison in Twelve Landscapes was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs, the Prize for Best Canadian Documentary at the DOXA Documentary Festival, and a Special Jury Mention at the Camden International Film Festival. Her journalism and film criticism have appeared in such outlets as CBC Radio and The Nation. Story 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. She is a 2016-2017 Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellow.

Film Credits

Directed by
Brett Story

Produced by
Brett Story
Christine Kleckner

Director of Photography
Maya Bankovic

Avril Jacobson

Associate Producer
Lori Chodos

Original Music
Olivier Alary

Sound Designer
Simon Gervais

Sound Recordist
Ian Reynolds

Cutdown Editor
Todd Chandler

Featuring (in order of appearance):

Phone calls to Calls From Home radio, WMMT-FM
Chris Barrett

Voiceover read by Denise Nelson
Evetta Smallwood
Sam Little
Gary W. Cox
Tarence Ray
Nahsohn Thomas
Judge Roy Richter
Darrick Reed
Charisse Davidson
Tomika Peterson
Stacey Cowsett
Antwon Cotton
David Naumann
Sequanna Vaughan
Iesha Punter
Mirna Arroyo

Post Production Coordinator
Lori Chodos

Title Design
Henriette Kruse

Additional Photography
Theodore Anthony
Lisa Rinzler

Assistant Editor
Kevin Shak

Editing Consultant
Jonathan Oppenheim

Additional Editing
Lawrence Jackman

Visual Researcher
Dana Kash

Production Coordinator
Nika Khanjani

Website Design
John Hodgins

Re-Recording Mixer
Matthew Chan

Assistant Re-Recording Mixer
Jesse Fellows

Studio Project Manager
Alexander Aslund

Account Manager
Ahmad Ismail

Project Manager
Linda Johnston

AJ McLaughlin

Adam Gagnon

Debbie Voth

The CG&B Group

Archival Material

Original Music Performed by
Mark Wheaton (Drums)
Aaron Lumley (Bass)
John Corban (Viola)
Olivier Alary (Guitars, Slide Guitar)

Recorded at Studio 279, Montreal

Mixed and Recorded by
Olivier Alary

Additional Music
Keiko Devaux

"Immaterial, Side A"
EKG (Kyle Bruckmann and Ernst Karel)

Aria from the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988)
Johann Sebastian Bach performed by
Jean Sébastien Lévesque

Special Thanks
Josh Akers
ArchCity Defenders
Jennifer Baichwal
Yuula Benivolski
Dan Berger
Berlinale Talents Doc Station
Michelle Brown
James Cairns
Joshua N. Canavan
Jem Cohen
Deb Cowen
Critical Resistance
Nick de Pencier
Phil Goodman
Sean Hanley
Thomas Harvey
Eli Horwatt
Terra Jean Long
James Kilgore
KTQ Labs
Stephanie Markowitz
Chelsea McMullan
Simon Mercer
Reuben Miller
Alexis Mitchell
Doug Nayler
Iva Radivojevic
Sylvia Ryerson
Jimmy Santiago Baca
Judah Schept
Roland Schlimme
Shaka Senghor
Kaija Siirala
Annie Spencer
Ben Taylor
Varun Vachhar
Pacho Velez
Michael-John Voss
Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Dedicated to all of those behind walls and in cages

Fiscal Sponsor
Women Make Movies

Funding Provided by
Vital Projects Fund
Canada Council for the Arts
Ontario Arts Council
National Film Board of Canada
Toronto Arts Council
And others. A complete list available from PBS.

This program was produced by Brett Story, who is solely responsible for its content.

© Brett Story 2016. All rights reserved.

Is your own community adjacent to a prison? If so, how does it affect the area around it? What else did watching this film make you think about the way prisons affect all of our lives?


  • Canadian Screen Awards
    Best Canadian Feature Documentary Nominee
  • HotDocs
    Special Jury Prize: Canadian Feature
  • DOXA Documentary Film Festival
    Best Canadian Feature
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Is your own community adjacent to a prison? If so, how does it affect the area around it? What else did watching this film make you think about the way prisons affect all of our lives?