It was a wedding born of a terrible act of violence. In 1999 Sean Clifton, in a psychotic frenzy, tried to stab to death a complete stranger, “the prettiest girl he’d seen”, at a mall in Cornwall Ontario. Most of those involved in the violent incident have been invited to the wedding, an extraordinary gathering. For some the wounds have never healed. Can they set aside their fears and pain and anger for the occasion? This extraordinary ceremony – and the dark secrets beneath the revelry – are among the remarkable events depicted in Not Criminally Responsible: Wedding Secrets by 4-time Emmy-winner John Kastner, sequel to his acclaimed 2013 documentary NCR: Not Criminally Responsible.
So great was the response to it (The Globe and Mail wrote of it: “The Importance and greatness of NCR: Not Criminally Responsible” cannot be overstated.”) CBC-TV’s First Hand commissioned a sequel and is running both films: NCR Not Criminally Responsible, on Thursday November 17th at 9pm and its sequel Not Criminally Responsible: Wedding Secrets on Thursday November 24th at 9pm
The new film follows Clifton 3 years later through a series of astonishing developments sparked by the original film. It shows how the lives of six of people involved in the film were transformed. Two of them are marrying each other. (If that sounds improbable, it is.)
When both the perpetrator, Sean Clifton and his victim Julie Bouvier discover they have been invited to the wedding it creates a painful dilemma. She has avoided all contact with him since his sanity hearing 17 years earlier. He wants to apologize. She wants to flee. Will the conflict rupture the happy occasion?
Kastner’s cameras are on hand to capture this remarkable chain of events. “The story is almost bizarre but it has a serious purpose. My over-arching goal (as in the original film) was to de-stigmatize sufferers of mental illness.
“Sean was horribly ill when he committed his violent act – he couldn’t help himself. But he must live in the shadow of it for the rest of his life. The film explores what a crushing burden this is. ”
“You couldn’t make this stuff up,” says Andy Bouvier, father of the victim. Or as Sean Clifton says in amazement at the wedding: “The only reason we’re all together in this dining room is because I attacked somebody. If I hadn’t done such a crazy thing like knifing somebody, the wedding never would have come about.”