Conviction is a raw and powerful Canadian documentary that envisions alternatives to prison through the eyes of women behind bars and those fighting on the front lines of the decarceration movement. Using photography, filmmaking, poetry and activism, four women document how the cyclical nature of imprisonment reinforces addiction and mental health problems. It compels us to examine why we imprison the most vulnerable among us, and at what cost.

Content notes: This documentary contains themes of trauma and depictions of self-harm.

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Introduction by Glasgow Film Theatre 

Thank you to Glasgow Film Theatre for supporting this programme and providing this introduction from Programme Manager Paul Gallagher. 


Programme Notes

"What would you have needed to avoid incarceration?"

Bianca, Treena, Laura, and Caitlin are all stuck in a cycle of prison sentences, eventual release and reoffending. What they also have in common are histories of childhood trauma and chronic health issues. The directing trio of Teresa MacInnes, Nance Ackerman and Ariella Pahlke collaborate with prisoners' rights advocate Senator Kim Pate in Conviction, a compelling and compassionate look at the stories of the real women behind the rapidly growing statistics.

The openness of all the women featured, whether inmates or staff, about their histories and lives, is in direct contrast to the rigidity of the roles they find themselves stuck in. At no point does this access feel exploitative or voyeuristic, in huge part to the women's own involvement in being part of the film crew. Followed through art therapy sessions, the travails of trying to secure a release and the severe lack of mental health provision at all levels of society, the women attempt to process their trauma and define what was missing in their lives to have led them to their present situation.

When the efficacy of policing and prisons in society are being called into question across the globe, Conviction is a timely and valuable contribution to the conversation.