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FILM OPENS: March 13, 2015

  1. Official Website
  2. Trailer

Mark DeFriest is an American prison legend, a notorious escape artist who has spent 33 years behind bars, with little light, hope or human contact.
The film is the exploration of Mark DeFriest's life and mind, both the facts of the case and the hyper world of his design, as seen in animations. Interweaving the animated past of Mark’s case with the parole narrative, the film becomes a de facto courtroom where the facts of Mark’s case are finally laid out. Mark DeFriest attempted 13 escapes and got out seven times, turning his original four-year sentence into Life. The original crime that sent him to prison: stealing his own father's tools. So how did a low-level criminal end up looking at life in prison?
Sitting in his office with a dusty file, Mark’s former lawyer, John Middleton, explains that at the beginning of Mark’s incarceration, people in the system disagreed about whether he belonged in prison at all. In the early 1980s, 5 of 6 court appointed psychiatrists testified that Mark was incompetent to be sentenced – citing symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – so he is sent to the Florida State Hospital for treatment. But when Mark makes a zipgun in woodshop class and escapes from there, a single doctor – the director of the Forensic Unit, Dr. Berland – testifies in court that Mark was faking mental illness. That opinion, coupled with torturous conditions in pre-trial detention in Bay County Jail, clears the way for Mark to plead guilty to a life sentence. He lands on a path of punishment instead of treatment that lasts through today.

  • Director: Gabriel London
  • Country: Canada
  • Genre: Animation | Biography | Documentary
  • Year: 2015
  • Run Time: 01:32:00
  • imdb Score: 7.9/10 (20 votes)
  • Language: English
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Cast: Scoot McNairy, Shea Whigham
"What could have been an impossibly bleak viewing is actually made more unnerving through DeFriest's droll humor and acceptance of his fate — rather than being Zen-like, he's prickly and dark, with such dazzlingly high native intelligence that you mourn for potential needlessly wasted."
Ernest Hardy - VILLAGE VOICE

"It’s a bizarre story not entirely clear in the telling — partly because we can’t be entirely sure when the subject is telling the truth — but absorbing nonetheless."
Dennis Harvey - VARIETY

"The rare documentary that gets more and more interesting as it goes along, even ending with an update on this still-unfolding story that just took place. "
Brian Tallerico - ROGEREBERT.COM


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