and this is a story that happened to me when I was in prison.
Back then I think it was about 1984.
The psychiatric prisoners had brown suits
– were dressed in brown suits –
and the rest of the population was dressed in blue.
I knew it was prejudice, and I don’t know why they classified us like that.
I guess it was for our own safety.
Usual reason was for our own safety, for our own security.
So I found myself in the bullpen waiting for trial
with two blue suits.
And me and the other brown suits were pretty evenly matched, I guess.
But one blue suit took it upon himself to bully the other brown suit,
he kept kicking at his feet and calling him ‘crazy’ and ‘nutsy’,
and just insulting him.
So the brown suit had more presence of mind, decided to get up and tell the guard.
And so the guard put him in another holding cell,
which is adjacent to the bullpen.
But the blue suit decided to continue his harassment,
by throwing water from the sink in the bullpen through the bars at him,
still calling him names.
This continued until the guard said,
“okay, everybody line up, time to see the judges”.
So I made sure I was the last person because I didn’t want that blue suit to my back.
So as we’re going out, the other blue suit, the one that wasn’t doing anything,
says to the blue suit that was being aggressive and hostile,
he says, “why did you do that? Aren’t they like us?”
And the blue suit yelled back at him, “no, no I’m not crazy, I’m normal!”
I’m just in here for murder and rape.
If that’s his definition of normal, I’d rather be “crazy”.
Director: Lou de Estores + Derreck Roemer
Director: Lou Estores is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist. Art, architecture and filmmaking have been his passions since childhood. From 2016 – 2018 Lou was a participant in Recovery Advocacy Documentary Action Research (RADAR) a collective of academics and filmmakers, from Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, using the participatory video method to create short films and documentaries about mental illness. Along with Off Suit, Estores made a number of other mental health- themed films through RADAR, including Finding Ourselves and Bill Bissett: The Gypsy Dreamer. Lou continues to make films outside of the RADAR project, which ended in early 2018.
Producer: Derreck Roemer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have been broadcast and exhibited around the globe. From 2016 – 2018, as a facilitator on the RADAR Toronto team, Derreck worked with a small group of consumer survivors to help them to make their own films about issues they face living with mental illness. He helped participants make 10 of the total of 26 short films produced by the RADAR collective. Currently, Derreck is producing and co- directing a feature-length documentary about addiction for TVO.