Canadian Brett Story's most recent film, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016), explores the American prison system, as well as the traditional sense of “landscape,” in an unusual way: except for the film's final shot, a drive-by of Attica State Prison nestled in the countryside of west-central New York State, we see no prisoners and no prison buildings—and few spaces we could call landscapes. Story's panoramic film reveals the multitude of ways in which the prison system is hidden in plain sight throughout the United States. In Scott MacDonald's interview with Story, the filmmaker explains the film's unusual approach and structure—as well as the struggle involved in getting the film made. Story's modest budget is the ultimate irony of The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, given the fact that the American prison system is the world's most extensive, and no doubt most expensive, system of incarceration on the planet.
The Landscape of Futurelessness: An Interview with Brett Story
Scott MacDonald is author of the series, A Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers, in five volumes from University of California Press, and, most recently, Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary and Avant-Garde Cinema (Oxford, 2014), Binghamton Babylon: Voices from the Cinema Department (a nonfiction novel) (SUNY Press, 2015), and The Flaherty: Decades in the Cause of Independent Cinema (with Patricia Zimmermann; Indiana University Press, 2017). He teaches film history at Hamilton College.
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Scott MacDonald; The Landscape of Futurelessness: An Interview with Brett Story. Film Quarterly 1 September 2018; 72 (1): 50–57. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2018.72.1.50
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