This documentary looks at how children deal with a parent who has died by suicide. Meet 3 people who lost their fathers to suicide at an early age but learned the truth much later, after years of confusion, grief and guilt. In French with English subtitles.
WARNING: This film discusses the topic of OCD. Viewer discretion is advised.
This feature documentary explores the daily lives of individuals living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a misunderstood anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts, nagging fears and ritualistic behaviour. From the outside, its sufferers have no physical disabilities and have every appearance of being as functional as the next person. But inside, a daily war is waged for survival.
Musician Catherine MacLellan—the daughter of Canadian singer/songwriting legend Gene MacLellan—grew up surrounded by her father’s music. He died by suicide when she was 14. Two decades after his loss, Catherine is finally ready to confront the hurtful mystery of her absent parent and embrace his musical legacy.
The Song and the Sorrow follows Catherine as she journeys to understand her father and face her own struggles with mental illness. Through archival footage and intimate interviews with friends, family members, and musicians who knew and played with Gene—including Anne Murray, Lennie Gallant, and the late Ron Hynes—the film reveals a troubled and loving man who was never at ease with fame or money.
Catherine is determined to lift the oppressive burden of silence that accompanies the stigma of mental illness and hopes that others can take strength and solace from her story.
TRIGGER WARNING: This film contains the following subject matter: Suicide and self harm.
If you are affected by the topics addressed in the film, we encourage you to reach out to someone you trust.
If you’re in need of crisis support, please visit Crisis Services Canada
Shannon Amen unearths the passionate and pained expressions of a young woman overwhelmed by guilt and anxiety as she struggles to reconcile her sexual identity with her religious faith. A loving elegy to a friend lost to suicide.
When death haunts a high school in a small town in the late 1990s, everyone is forever transformed. In this gentle, prismatic film, Samara returns to the town she fled as a teen to re-immerse herself in the memories still lurking there, in its spaces and within the dusty boxes of diaries, photos and VHS tapes. 1999 is not a ghost story, but the ghosts are palpable at every turn. The snow-covered streets, the school’s hallways and lockers are preserved as in a dream. The absences left by the relentless teenage suicides still shimmer with questions, trauma and regret. Samara encounters people who are as breathtaking as they are heartbroken, and, finally, 16 years later, the community strengthens itself by sharing the long-silenced memories. Ultimately the film weaves together multiple voices in a collective essay on how grief is internalized—and how, as children, we so painfully learn to articulate our desire to stay alive.
In this short film, three youths draw on their own experiences to provide an essential guide to staying afloat while navigating the choppy waters of adolescence. It's a time when youth undergo big changes and assume new responsibilities, juggling school, family and friends. Throw in work, dating, exams, racist remarks and extracurricular activities, and it's no wonder teens get knocked off balance. Spoken word performer Kyra Shaughnessy and a diverse chorus of young voices provide running commentary, making XS Stress an insightful report from the teens of today.
This feature documentary tells the story of 2 teens who head out west in search of self. Like a quarter of Vancouver’s itinerant youth population, Mélo and Ti-criss made the trip from Quebec, hopeful for a better life. Still minors, the pair seeks escape and adventure, perhaps the meaning of life. From east to west, from the streets to a hotel, with a welcome interlude in the country, they seek their place in society.
This short documentary focuses on the children of alcoholics. In the relaxed environment of a mountain campsite, a group of young people discuss their anger and frustration, and talk about their struggle to cope with the problems created by their parents' drinking. By sharing their experiences, they open a door for others like them. Aimed primarily at an audience of elementary school children and older, this film provides an excellent vehicle for generating discussion about alcohol abuse and the family.
This short documentary follows a group therapy workshop for people who have attempted to end their lives more than once. A hybrid of vérité and animation, the film is a candid portrayal of 12 people who together, for 20 weeks, take on their fears, their behaviours and their ghosts to move towards life and away from suicide.
Drawing from Life is a production of the National Film Board of Canada's Filmmaker-in-Residence project, produced with the creative participation of Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology, Animation Arts Centre.
This short documentary is a fascinating portrait of the Vancouver Mental Patients' Association (MPA), a unique, democratically-organized advocacy and support group for people who have sought care in the mental health system. While client-centred care and advocacy in mental health are relatively more common now, they were unfamiliar concepts in the 1970s, and this film sheds light on the birth of this nascent movement. The MPA provides support and a space for discussion, which helps those dealing with mental health problems to re-integrate into their communities after sojourns in hospitals or other institutions. Members' comments afford some insight into what has been called the "mental health industry."
Hope, from first time documentary filmmakers Stuart Reaugh and Thomas Buchan, follows artist Ken Paquette, his partner Winnie Peters and their five boys (ages four through fifteen) as they struggle to cope during a year of wrenching change.
The family lives on the Schkam Native Reserve, across the river from the town of Hope. The town is a transitory place at the junction of three highways. After 18 years together, Ken and Winnie's troubled relationship dissolves when Rick, a tattooed ex-con, moves in and assumes the role of stepfather. Winnie's eldest son Kenny leaves the home. Ken settles in town, where he sells his paintings outside the local pub, earning enough for rent and the occasional trip to McDonalds with his kids. Over the course of four seasons, the family cycles through poverty, addiction, violence and love, but when winter bleeds into spring, a final confrontation sparks irrevocable change.
With painterly attention to the ordinary details of life in an interior town - dark mountains shrouded in mist, rotting abandoned cars amidst the vaulted green spaces of the forest - the film captures two very different senses of time. The permanence of the land set against an explosive human drama that exists for fragile moments, before life and circumstances move on.
The directors lived alongside the family over the course of a year, becoming an intimate part of events. This style of on-the-ground filmmaking provides a startling level of immediacy. The film imposes no external narrative; each family member offers a unique voice, describing their frustration and anger with each other, as well as their love and dreams for a better life. Raw honesty and a deep humanism explode stereotypes, capturing the joy and laughter, as well as the pain of this complex family, in a fully realized portrait of people and place.
This short drama tells the story of Andy Potter, a successful lawyer torn between 2 worlds - the world of reality and that of his own dreams and ambitions. With a loving wife, many supportive friends and a great career, there was no apparent reason for him to wish to end his life. Yet and still, one by one, the symptoms of schizophrenia took their toll.
Ages 8 to 17
Family Studies/Home Economics - Child Development
Health/Personal Development - Mental Health/Stress/Suicide
Media Education - Documentary Film
A father’s suicide means profound consequences for those left behind, especially the children. The director of this documentary, whose own father committed suicide, sought to understand what happens to survivors by questioning a man and a woman who suffered through the same experience. Her approach was both subjective and poetic. Do you think this was a good way to tackle this subject? Do you feel more affected by this type of documentary than others? What have you learned about the impact of a parent’s suicide on children? About the “secret” surrounding such an act, which is so often kept from children? About the social taboo around suicide? Lastly, about the survivors’ feelings of shame, guilt and remorse?