Following a series of screenings across the country, the feature documentary Sans Maman (Unmothered) by Franco-Albertan Marie-France Guerrette, a filmmaker of Acadian descent, will be available online in Canada for free starting Tuesday, September 3, on NFB.ca. Produced at the NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio, this luminous, touching and profoundly sincere film captures the director’s grieving process after her mother died when she was only a child. The documentary goes beyond the preconceptions associated with the loss of a loved one, exploring the director’s personal as well as the universal mourning process, as we see Guerrette transform before our very eyes. This online launch is in partnership with Deuil-Jeunesse.
“She was 10 at the time, so her mother’s death goes back more than 20 years, and there was always this need to know, to understand and to explore the story of her mother’s life and the story of her death so that she could heal. Marie-France Guerrette’s process could not illustrate Deuil-Jeunesse’s message any better, namely, how important it is to be attentive to grieving children and to support them in their grieving process, from the moment the death is announced and throughout their life’s journey.”
– Josée Masson, Social Worker, Founder and General Manager of Deuil-Jeunesse
Unmothered had its world premiere in 2018 at the Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie (FICFA), where it was nominated for the Prix La Vague for best documentary. It was also selected to screen at the Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma and the NorthwestFest International Documentary Festival in Edmonton, where it won the Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Feature. The film then had more than 20 screenings in 18 cities across Canada, particularly in bereavement support networks. In addition, in 2019 Marie-France Guerrette received one of RAFA’s (Regroupement artistique francophone de l’Alberta) awards of excellence, the Prix Envol, which is given to an emerging artist who has created an exceptional work.
What critics are saying about Unmothered
“A film interspersed with old family photos and videos, tremendously moving … The kind of film that makes you want to call your mother and hug your kids.”
– Silvia Galipeau, La Presse
“It’s really very moving… it’s luminous…”
– Anne-Marie Parenteau, Le réveil – Radio-Canada Acadie
– Doris Labrie, Pour faire un monde – Radio-Canada Saskatchewan
About Unmothered by Marie-France Guerrette (72 min)
Produced at the NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio by Dominic Desjardins and Denis McCready
When Mona Guerrette died from breast cancer at age 42, in Saskatchewan, she left behind a husband and two daughters. How do you survive such a heartbreaking loss when you’re only a child? In this touching documentary about her family, Marie-France Guerrette blends home-movie footage and interviews to give viewers a window onto her own personal experience of grief. In the course of her filmmaking journey, the director was also forced to face an oppressive legacy: the risk of genetic cancer. Unmothered offers a possible roadmap back to the land of the living for anyone who’s ever experienced the devastation of losing a loved one.
About the filmmaker
A passionate screenwriter, director and producer, Marie-France Guerrette has dedicated herself to creating both French and English television programs and documentaries that entertain, enlighten and move a range of audiences. She’s made two successful documentaries for the NFB, Le chœur d’une culture (Together in Harmony) (2008) and Mon père, le roi (My Father, the King) (2010), and produced or directed many short films, series, youth programs and videos. In 2015, she co-founded an independent production company, Productions Loft Inc., which has produced and directed many nationally broadcast documentaries. Unmothered is her first feature-length documentary.
About the NFB
The NFB is Canada’s public producer of award-winning creative documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences. NFB producers are embedded in communities across the country, from St. John’s to Vancouver, working with talented creators on innovative and socially relevant projects. The NFB is a leader in gender equity in film and digital media production, and is working to strengthen Indigenous-led production, guided by the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. NFB productions have won over 7,000 awards, including 24 Canadian Screen Awards, 21 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 100 Genies. To access this award-winning content and discover the work of NFB creators, visit NFB.ca, download its apps for mobile devices or visit NFB Pause.