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Hot Docs 2014 Review: Out of Mind, Out of Sight

Last year, John Kastner premiered his film NCR: Not Criminally Responsible, about a patient at the Brockville Mental Health Centre. Following NCR’s success, Kastner returned to Brockville with unprecedented access with the even better film Out of Mind, Out of Sight.

The film examines mental illness, specifically what happens to the mentally ill after being committed for violent crimes. We are taken into the Brockville Mental Health Centre, the kind of place people would usually call an insane asylum or mental institution. Though showing the lives of many patients and staff, the film specifically focuses on the story of four patients, Justine, Carole, Michael, and Sal. Each of the four has a drastically different story, showing us the different experiences of living in a mental institution. Sal wonders the halls, trying to strike up a conversation with anyone who will talk to him. Carole compulsively lies, falsely accusing a male nurse of raping her. Justine uses the threat of suicide to get attention from the staff, often getting into fights with other patients. Finally we have Michael, who silently mourns the loss of his mother, who he accidentally killed in a schizophrenic rage.

The film was awarded the Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award at this year’s Hot Docs film festival, and it is an award that is very well deserved. While Out of Mind, Out of Sight is a tragic film that is often difficult to watch, it also has moments where it is extremely inspiring. If you’re going to watch one documentary this year, make it Out of Mind, Out of Sight.

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Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.