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Note: Not Criminally Responsible and Not Criminally Responsible: Wedding Secrets were both directed, produced and written by John Kastner, one of Canada's most successful filmmakers. He died suddenly on November 21, 2019.

Although Kastner began his career as a child actor who went on to work for a variety of television programs, he is best-know as an award-winning filmmaker of documentaries, which often pertained to prisoners and people with mental health issues. He won more than 75 international awards, including 4 Emmys for his films. 

There has been a quiet revolution in recent years in the treatment of people with mental disorders who commit an act of violence . Not long ago such patients would almost certainly have been considered hopelessly deranged and dangerous, and confined to an "asylum for the criminally insane" for life.

Read a review of this film by the Globe and Mail's John Doyle.

Not anymore. Today people declared not criminally responsible are frequently being released back onto the streets, a number of them potentially extremely dangerous men and women, not only suicidal but homicidal. Most are incurable.  

NCR: Not Criminally Responsible tells the story of a troubled young man who stabbed a complete stranger 6 times in a crowded shopping mall while gripped by psychosis. Twelve years later, his victim, who miraculously survived, is terrified to learn that he's out, living in the community under supervision. He's applying for an absolute discharge, and if he succeeds, he'll no longer be required to take the anti-psychotic drugs that control his mental illness. With unprecedented access to the patient, the victim, and the mental institution, the film looks at both sides of the debate and puts a human face on the complex ethical issues raised.

Scene from the film: Sean Clifton writes a letter of apology to Julie and her family.

For an update on this story, watch Not Criminally Responsible: Wedding Secrets.

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