A drawing of a young boy with an oversized head, a character from BLA BLA, an interactive website produced by Vincent Morisset in 2011.

Press Releases & Media Kits

We Were Children filming in Winnipeg

Press release

2011/05/05


Docudrama brings residential school survivor stories to life


Winnipeg, May 5, 2011 – Principal photography on We Were Children resumes this week in Winnipeg. The powerful docudrama is an unflinching examination of the experiences of two Aboriginal residential school survivors.

The film is co-produced by Lisa Meeches and Kyle Irving for Eagle Vision Inc., Loren Mawhinney for eOne Television and David Christensen for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

We Were Children chronicles the experiences of Lyna, who was four years old when she was taken to a residential school 500 kilometers from her home, and Glen, who was six when his parents reluctantly handed him over. For each of them, summoning the courage to share their experiences is a difficult but vital step along the path to healing and peace.

Directed by Tim Wolochatiuk and written by Jason Sherman, the film combines interviews with survivors and dramatic re-enactments intended to deepen our understanding of a dark and largely unknown chapter in Canadian history. We Were Children explores not only the individual experiences of the children, but the impact of the collective residential school experience on Canadian society as a whole across the generations.

“The interviews are compelling on their own,” says Wolochatiuk, “and the re-enactments take the further step of helping the viewer relate to the survivor’s circumstances. It’s one thing to hear these stories—and thankfully more and more survivors are coming forward to share their experiences—but it is also really powerful to see a child placed in those circumstances and bond with them emotionally.”

Knowledge of the history of residential schools is crucial but only part of the equation, according to co-producer Lisa Meeches. Equally important is an understanding of their impact. “Years children spent being ‘cleansed’ of their culture, traditions and family bonds left them lonely, confused and utterly devastated; they could go neither back, nor forward. The brokenness and dysfunction evidenced by substance abuse, violence and suicide among survivors and their families is the resulting legacy we have all inherited.”

“At the core of the story,” Wolochatiuk says, “is the realization that these were children. Just children. And that’s the kind of bridge that must be built between Canadians if we are to fully understand the enormous tragedy of these schools and learn the lessons the past has to teach us.”

While Wolochatiuk and Sherman don’t shrink from the painful loss of personal identity, abuse and cruelty endured by survivors, there is humour and hopefulness in the film as well. These moments of lightness remind the audience that even in the worst situations, the human spirit finds a way to cope..

Filming on We Were Children began in March of 2009, with survivor interviews. A second block of shooting took place in October for autumn exterior sequences, with winter scenes shot in March, 2011. Shooting resumes this week in Winnipeg and St-Pierre-Jolys, followed by a final block of filming in July.

Wolochatiuk’s recent credits include the docudrama Jonestown: Paradise Lost, named Best Canadian program at the 2007 Banff World Television Festival, and Impact of Terror, Grand Prize winner at the 2006 New York Festivals.

We Were Children is part of a slate of projects that the National Film Board of Canada is developing on residential schools, which includes a website with Gil Cardinal and a documentary film. The NFB is also working with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on a project about Aboriginal rights. A world leader in producing works by First Nations, Inuit and Métis film and digital media makers, the NFB has numerous projects now in development or production by Aboriginal artists across Canada.


-30-


Media visits to the set are encouraged and will be arranged on request. Production partners, the director, writer and select cast members are available for interviews.


For more information, contact:

Anne Bennett
Publicist
Cell: 204-781-3368
Email: annebennett@mymts.net