A Hard Name

"I had a hard name in that place" says Michael, one of the eight ex-cons in Alan Zweig’s film. His turn of phrase refers to more than just a bad reputation. He’s talking about a hardness of spirit. It may have served him well as a criminal or a prisoner. In the outside world however, that hardness can get in the way. But slipping off the bonds of that hardness is easier said than done.

In A HARD NAME, we meet eight middle-aged ex-convicts, chosen at random, who are trying to stay out of prison, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Most have spent 30 to 40 years in and out of jail. Prison is what they know; they've learned how to survive there. Out here, it's a different story. As each of the characters in the film tries to adapt to life on the outside, they share their stories, reflect on their past, and explore the path that led them to prison in the first place.

I had a hard name in that place.

Through these stories, we will investigate our fascination with time travel and attempt to figure out what’s so appealing about reliving the past and foreseeing the future. We will also look at the power of cinema and the ways in which science fiction storytelling has inspired real life scientific breakthroughs.

Feature Documentary | TVO | 2009


  • Genie Award, 2010 Best Feature Length Documentary
  • Top Ten Audience Favourite Hot Docs, 2009


  • Hot Docs, 2009