Canadian writer and filmmaker Sheona McDonald premiered two films at this year’s Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival.
One, a short documentary film Into Light, which captures a season of change as a mother and child navigate the complexities of gender identity together. The other, a feature documentary Dead Man’s Switch: a crypto mystery, a cautionary tale, about the short life & mysterious death of QuadrigaCX CEO, Gerald Cotten.
McDonald has been keeping busy over the past few years with these two different yet very interesting films.
Into Light is a very personal and intimate look at a mother and child relationship while navigating the spectrums of gender and identity.
The film was originally conceived to just share the parent’s perspective of this journey, but as the child got older she was excited to share and participate—this became part of the conversation.
From the start, we can see the care that went into making a film that is respectful of the mother and child’s privacy. I particularly like the moments when we see mother and child walking outside together enjoying their surroundings, and each other. The tone, pacing, visual language, and music all come together to make a film that tackles a big topic in a very accessible way.
McDonald’s feature documentary, Dead Man’s Switch: a crypto mystery, deals with a very different topic.
Using first person interviews, live action and animation, the film lays out the mind-blowing facts of the last five years of Gerry Cotten’s life and then re-explores those facts in a creative and inquisitive manner .
As I watched the film, I asked myself “could all this all true?” At the end of it, the truth is most likely in the middle of all the facts presented in the film. The way McDonald and team put it together is what makes it intriguing and mind boggling at the same time.
McDonald graciously took time to speak with me about both films this week. We had a great discussion about her filmmaking process, her collaborative teams, editing through the pandemic, and other great insights about Into Light and Dead Man’s Switch: a crypto mystery.