Three Imaginary Girls

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Mr. Big is a code name for a Canadian police operation where an undercover officer pretends to be a powerful crime lord to get suspects to confess to crimes they are investigating. It is also the title of one of the best films to play at SIFF this year.

A documentary by former TV news anchor Tiffany Burns, she uses the high profile case of her younger brother Sebastian (who, along with a friend, was convicted of murdering his friend’s family in Bellevue in 1994) as a starting point for discussing this use of what would be considered entrapment in the US (and would be considered a coerced confession). It is a sobering portrait of two justice systems (American and Canadian) determined to arrest criminals at any cost. Burns wonders what that actual cost is but finds lots of roadblocks along the way.

She does an excellent job of showing the groupthink that occurs when trying to solve a high-profile case (lots of exculpatory evidence is missed or ignored along the way) and what the real-world consequences can be. It is a really excellent portrait of how “false confessions” are coerced and the devastating impact is has on those families.

Mr. Big plays at 7pm tonight (June 3) at the Harvard Exit and Thursday, June 5 at 4:30pm at SIFF Cinema.