15 Reasons to Live – A Film By Alan Zweig – Opening in Toronto Friday, Oct. 4 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Hot Docs


15 Reasons To Live
a film by Alan Zweig

Opens October 4, 2013| Bloor Hot Docs Cinema 

Alan Zweig will be in attendance for a Q+A at the following screenings:

Monday October 7 – 8:30pm

Wednesday October 9 – 9:30pm

Thursday October 10 – 1:45pm


is a study of joy and pain that is quietly instructive but mostly entertaining.” – Globe and Mail

“utterly compelling…”  National Post

“stunning and euphoric” – Moviefone :

“Deeply poignant” – Torontoist

“one of the most life affirming documentaries..”  – Dork Shelf

“There are no words to explain how essential this film is.”  – Toronto Film Scene

“Each one is like a bookmark in a novel you don’t want to put down” – Toronto Star

“one of his [ Alan Zweig ] most moving and profound films to date’ – NOW

“It could be called How to Be Happy, and offers comfort to those of us who would never buy a book with a title like that, but still really want to know.” –   Globe and Mail

(Toronto – September 19, 2013)  It’s been a breakthrough year for documentarian Alan Zweig.

Recently crowned the Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival (for his doc When Jews Were Funny), Zweig hits theatres Oct. 4 with the world premiere of another triumph, the critically-acclaimed, existential exercise 15 Reasons To Live.

We humans love our lists. To-do lists, resolution lists, “bucket lists” – unequivocal directives all. As the old saying goes, Moses didn’t come down from the mountain with The Ten Suggestions.

So when Zweig discovered Ray Robertson’s non-fiction book Why Not? Fifteen Reasons To Live, (and came to know Ray Robertson), he was intrigued by the concept of organizing the panoply of life itself into a list.

Said 15 reasons are: Love, solitude, critical mind, art, individuality, home, work, humour, friendship, intoxication, praise, meaning, body, duty and death. To savour them all would presumably be to truly live.

Thus was born 15 Reasons To Live, the most ambitious work to date by Zweig (Lovable; I, Curmudgeon; Vinyl), with his first use of a crew, a wide location schedule (stretching a thousand miles from North Carolina to Montreal), and a first-time use of animation mixed with live documentary.

Inspired by Robertson’s list, Zweig re-created or sought out real-life stories of human experience that fit Robertson’s 15 Reasons categories. Two of the stories, both animated, were intensely personal – including Death, taken from Zweig’s friendship with the late actress Tracey Wright, and the lighter-hearted Individuality, about a gentle anonymous act of vandalism (or art?) perpetrated upon his car.

Some of the people/stories have been in the news – including Adam Nobody (Humour), the activist whose good-humour was badly received by police with batons at the G-20 protests, or Jean Béliveau (Love), who spent 11 years literally walking around the world while his wife waited, or the crime novelist Howard Engel (Art), who suffered a brain pathology that left him unable to read or write. Others are as simple as the story of Tabetha Rosenberg (Solitude), a mother of five who savours stolen moments, people-watching in a mall.

“It intrigued me to try and make a film that had positivity ingrained in its DNA from the outset,” Zweig says. “I was excited and a bit frightened at the prospect of finding the 15 stories. I wanted stories of characters that acted upon the challenges that faced them. I wanted stories of characters that tried to change their lives.  I wanted stories in which characters discovered their reasons to live through their choices and struggles. And I wanted some slighter stories and some bigger stories.”

Directed by Alan Zweig, Produced by Julia Rosenberg (The Bodybuilder and I), in Association with TVO. Animation by Joseph Sherman, Edited by Eamonn O’Connor, Cinematography by Naomi Wise, Music by StudioCat, Executive Producer, Robin Smith, Associate Producer, Whitney Mallett, Commisioning Editor, TVO, Jane Jankovic. 15 Reasons To Live is distributed by KinoSmith, with the broadcast participation of TVOntario and Shaw-owned IFC. 15 Reasons to Live will make its world broadcast premiere on TVO in early 2014.

About January Films
As Head of Production and Development at Serendipity Point Films, Julia Rosenberg worked directly on several notable and award-winning feature films, including Being Julia and The Statement.  She later launched January Films and her first production was the feature documentary The Bodybuilder and I, which won several important prizes including Best Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs 2007. Other January Films titles include Real Time, starring Randy Quaid and Jay Baruchel, and Margaux Williamson’s Teenager Hamlet. January Films’ development slate includes narrative feature, documentary and television projects.

About KinoSmith
KINOSMITH INC. is an independent Canadian film distribution & marketing company founded in February 2007 by distribution veteran Robin Smith. With a mandate to bring critically-acclaimed Canadian and international films to audiences across the country, the company has distributed over 200 feature films in the last six years as well as providing marketing advice to completed films and productions in development. KINOSMITH is also home to the Hot Docs Collection on DVD that releases award winning documentaries curated by the Hot Docs festival in Canada. Current KINOSMITH releases include: Blackfish, The Venice Syndrome, Free The Mind, A People Uncounted, Dragon Girls, Call Me Kuchu, Italy: Love It Or Leave It, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, Informant and The Manor. Upcoming releases Good Ol’ Freda, After Tiller, Unclaimed, The Punk Syndrome, Brother Number One, These Birds Walk, Design Is One: Lella & Massimo Vignellis, Wavemakers, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, Big Sur, Il Futuro and Jingle Bell Rocks!.