Humber College’s film and television production program hosted its short documentary project premiere through YouTube following a year of delays.
The 16 documentaries, which run at approximately 11 minutes in length, were filmed prior to the pandemic but were shelved until they could be safely viewed. The screenings are normally held at the Bloor Hot Docs theatre for a live, in-person event but premiered on YouTube for a live stream event on Friday, March 19.
“We missed that, like a really big opportunity that was supposed to come with our program,” Emily Mahu said. “I think a lot of people had expectations that weren’t met when it came to that, and I guess it just kind of made us learn sooner in the pandemic that in this industry, we need to adapt.”
Mahu co-wrote and was the director of photography on the project Deeper Than Blue, a look at the cause and effect of postpartum depression through its main subject, Amanda Munday of Toronto.
“I had reached out to her and didn’t really expect the extent of the story that we got,” Mahu said.
“Honestly, her story could be two hours long, it could be a feature documentary, and trying to condense it into the 11 minutes felt impossible,” she said.
Deeper Than Blue already had a successful run through the festival circuit, including the Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Film Festival, Virtual Reel Recovery Film Festival, as well as the Hollywood North Awards.
What marked the project as unique was its willingness to tackle a subject matter as sensitive as postpartum depression and bring it into the spotlight in a time when mental health struggles are being highlighted with care.
“It was very special for me and the team to talk about the subject matter in the film, and how important it is that people actually know what it is because postpartum depression is something that many people don’t know exists,” Nicole Hayward said.
Hayward was the producer of the project, overseeing every aspect of the film from start to finish.
“Amanda, who is the subject of our documentary, is a very busy woman,” Hayward said. “So, definitely, coordinating the whole production around her and her family’s life was definitely a challenge.”
Kyle Kulla directed Fully Involved, another notable documentary that highlighted the struggles of mental health. The film followed now retired Brampton Fire Captain Glenn Berwick and the horrific realities of being a firefighter alongside the mental health effects it can have on a person.
The remaining 14 documentaries, all lined up one after the other in a non-stop stream, tackled a variety of subjects on all spectrums of seriousness. From mental health to how to properly eat a hot dog, each had a unique and engaging story to tell.
What was most important to the students was finally seeing the projects screened in completion.
“I think for a large majority of my classmates, we just want to see them as a lot of us have held ourselves back from watching each other’s projects,” said Georgina Gauthier, the student event manager for the documentary screenings, helped plan the virtual event.
“I’m just very excited to see the work that we did almost a year and a half ago, even though it’s not on a big screen in a cinema like it normally would have been,” she said.
“There are pros and the cons to it,” Gauthier said. “For me personally and I think many people in the film industry, and especially in our program, is the opportunity for us to gather in a theater, and to be able to watch it on that live cinema screen.” she said.
The Humber short documentaries will now begin further festival circulation.