Ex-NHLer Sheldon Kennedy triumphs and lights the way for fellow sex-abuse survivors in
a feature documentary by Joshua Rofé
Opens the 23rd annual
Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival
November 6, 2015
7:45 p.m. screening
BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA – 506 Bloor St. W.
Tickets can be purchased by telephone between 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. at 416-599-TIFF(8433) or toll free at 1-888-599-8433, online at www.rendezvouswithmadness.com, or in-person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street W from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Director Joshua Rofé and Sheldon Kennedy will be in Toronto to attend the screening and are available for interviews, in advance by phone, skype, email, or in person November 5 – 8
It should have been the Canadian dream. A kid from a small prairie town is scouted by a famous Junior-A coach. The coach mentors and tutors him all the way to an NHL dream career.
Except the coach was Graham James, a now-infamous sexual predator whose behavior was abetted and ignored through two Western League coaching stints and one in Europe.
And the kid was Sheldon Kennedy, a National Hockey League player whose self-destructive behavior finally made sense when he came out to the world as a survivor of sex abuse at the hands of James, his coach with the Swift Current Broncos.
Kennedy, who traded his star athlete status for a challenging job of role model, is the sometimes-uncomfortable star of Joshua Rofé’s riveting documentary Swift Current.
As filmed by Rofé, Kennedy’s is a redemption story of stops and starts, of a dream turned nightmare, wounded families and one man’s determination to take back his life despite repeated setbacks.
“You sink or swim, and ultimately I chose to swim,” Kennedy says. “We know the social impact of abuse and we now know how it affects the brain. Going to a counselor a couple of times isn’t enough.”
Rofé’s previous acclaimed documentary Lost For Life looked at a background of childhood abuse that violent criminals shared. He finds echoes of that theme with Kennedy’s lapses – alcohol and drug abuse, substance-related auto accidents, etc., – that continued to pull him down even after he’d become a hero and rollerbladed across Canada to raise awareness and money for sexual abuse victims. Kennedy’s final, successful stint in rehab put him on a path that led to his being awarded the Order Of Canada this year.
Turning his lens afield, Rofé also profiles Graham Jolicouer and Mikki Decker two young people whose experiences (with a predator ‘family friend’ and an incestuous father respectively) lead them to connect with Kennedy and his message at a university speaking engagement.
“Sheldon is a survivor, and an amazingly self-aware spokesman for the cause of dealing with trauma,” Rofé says. “He talks about the long-term effects of child abuse in a way no one else, to my knowledge, ever has on film.”
About Rendezvous With Madness (RWM)
The first festival of its kind in the world and currently the largest, Rendezvous with Madness was founded in 1993 and is produced each year by Workman Arts. RWM investigates the facts and mythologies surrounding mental illness and addiction as presented by both Canadian and international filmmakers, as well as by visual and media-based artists. The festival provides filmmakers and artists with opportunities to exhibit work that may not otherwise be seen; facilitates discussion between artists and audiences on these cinematic and media representations; and increases awareness of, and advocacy for, mental health and addiction issues among the broader public. Our 23rd Festival runs November 6-14, 2015, for more information please visit: