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15 Reasons  To  Live  

World Premiere  April  27   Hot  Docs  Film  Festival   GAT  PR  Press  Summary    

Interviews completed:       Radio                       Print                                 Online                         TV                    






Metro Morning  –  CBC  Radio   Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig  






The Toronto  Star   Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig  






Real Screen   Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig  






Quill and  Quire   Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig  






BlogTO Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig  


Toronto Is  Awesome   Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig  






CHCH TV   Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig    






TVO Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig    

Daniel Garber  –  CIUT  89.5  FM   Interviewed:  Alan  Zweig  

CBC Radio  Metro  Morning   May  1,  2013   Interviewed  by  Matt  Galloway­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live/index.html


A drink  with  filmmaker  Alan  Zweig   Eric  Veillette     To  learn  what  someone  really  thinks,  you  take  them  for  a  drink.  This  week:  introspective  Toronto  film-­‐ maker  Alan  Zweig  (Vinyl;  I,  Curmudgeon),  whose  new  doc,  15  Reasons  to  Live,  opens  at  Hot  Docs  on   Saturday.     Where:  The  Harbord  Room,  89  Harbord  St.     The  drinks:  Seated  at  the  bar,  Alan  ordered  their  signature  cocktail,  The  Ronald  Clayton  —  vanilla-­‐infused   whisky,  house-­‐made  maple  bitters  and  tobacco  syrup.  “I’m  tempted  by  that  one  because  it  has  tobacco   and  I  haven’t  smoked  in  twenty  years,”  says  our  guest.  For  Eric,  the  Fairytale  of  New  York,  a  whisky-­‐based   libation  with  “winter  warmth”  syrup  and  house-­‐made  cinnamon/walnut  bitters.     Mixologist:  Liz  Campbell     E:  Your  film  opens  with  you  driving  along  a  bridge  in  Montreal.  Did  you  ever  have  a  desire  to  make  films   elsewhere?     A:  I  thought  about  it  at  one  point,  moving  to  L.A.,  but  Toronto’s  fine.  Years  ago  there  was  a  slogan  contest   and  I  had  a  great  one.  “Toronto:  Perfectly  adequate.”     E:  You  lived  on  College  St.  when  you  made  Vinyl.  Are  you  still  there?   I’m  further  west  now.  I  lived  within  100  yards  of  Bathurst  until  I  was  50,  but  I  grew  up  in  Forest  Hill.  My   mother  grew  up  near  Clinton  St.,  and  when  we  were  kids,  she  used  to  talk  about  Clinton  St.  the  same  way   my  grandmother  talked  about  Russia.  It  was  the  place  where  my  mother  was  poor.  When  we  left  Forest   Hill,  we  wondered  why  they  wanted  to  go  back  there,  but  it  was  great.     E:  Where  did  your  desire  to  tell  stories  begin?     A:  There  was  a  time,  not  that  long  ago,  when  somebody  might  casually  say  to  me:  you  know,  you’re  a   story-­‐teller  .  .  .  I  considered  it  an  insult,  because  I  thought  that  storytelling  was  only  one  aspect  of  film-­‐ making  and  now  you’re  reducing  me  to  something  like  the  Vinyl  Café.   E:  And  when  did  that  change?     A:  It  was  a  confluence  of  two  things:  A  few  years  ago,  This  American  Life,  the  TV  show  —  it  was  the  most   inspiring  non-­‐fiction  I’d  ever  seen.  It  blew  my  mind.  And  then  I  came  to  a  realization  that  when  I  interview   people,  I  interrupt  to  tell  my  story,  you  know?  “Oh,  that  reminds  me  .  .  .  ”  Some  people  like  it,  some   people  don’t.    

E: I’m  wondering  if  there’s  something  about  the  human  condition  where  we  just  want  to  relate  to  people,   however  tangentially.     A:  I’m  somebody  who  talks  to  people.  I  talk  to  the  store-­‐keeper  while  he’s  ringing  something  up.  Or  I  talk   to  people  in  moments  where  they  might  normally  remain  anonymous.  My  father  was  like  that,  and  it   always  impressed  me,  sort  of  giving  dignity  to  people  who  were  otherwise  being  ignored.  He  insisted  on   breaking  through  people’s  anonymity.     A:  In  the  film,  you  share  an  event  from  1990  that  you’ve  been  holding  onto  for  a  while.  What  happens  to   those  stories  as  the  years  go  by?     A:  When  it  comes  to  certain  stories  I  share,  things  that  happened  when  I  was  a  kid,  sometimes  I  wonder  if   it  really  happened  like  that,  or  like,  am  I  making  it  up?     E:  The  kind  of  story  you’ve  told  so  often  it  becomes  a  myth?     A:  Yeah.  When  I  was  six  or  seven,  my  parents  sent  me  to  a  music  school  on  Spadina,  north  of  St.  Clair.  It’s   the  late  ’50s,  so  the  lower  village  was  still  waspy  —  the  Jews  hadn’t  quite  moved  there  yet.  So  at   Christmas,  this  blond,  Children  of  the  Corn-­‐looking  kid  in  short  pants  came  up  to  me  with  something  in  his   hand.  As  I  remember  it,  every  kid  in  the  class  was  behind  him  like  in  a  triangle,  and  he  said  “do  you  know   what  this  is?”  I  didn’t.  “It’s  the  baby  Jesus.”  It  was  a  little  nativity  scene.  When  I  said  I  didn’t  know,  the   whole  class  just  made  a  gasping  sound.      

Hot Docs  ’13:     Zweig’s  “Reasons”  to  be  cheerful   Adam  Benzine­‐docs-­‐13-­‐zweigs-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐be-­‐cheerful/#ixzz2SL4MF29J

Veteran Canadian  filmmaker  Alan  Zweig  (pictured)  returns  to  Hot  Docs  this  year  with  15  Reasons  to  Live,   an  adaptation  of  a  non-­‐fiction  book  by  Ray  Robertson.     The  doc  is  Zweig’s  first  since  2009ʹ′s  ex-­‐con  focused  A  Hard  Name,  and  represents  a  stylistic  change  for  the   director  from  his  usual,  talking  head-­‐heavy  style.  Adopting  a  list-­‐based  format,  the  film  covers  short   stories  focusing  on  work,  love,  intoxication,  humor,  solitude,  duty,  home  and  death.     The  project  was  funded  by  Canadian  broadcaster  TVO,  which  will  air  it  in  2014,  after  its  Hot  Docs   screenings.  But  despite  the  festival  slot  and  the  film’s  relatively  cheery  tone,  the  I,  Curmudgeon  director   remains  something  of  a  self-­‐professed,  well,  curmudgeon.     “When  I  was  a  first-­‐timer,  I  resented  the  veterans,”  he  tells  realscreen  in  Toronto.  “Now  that  I’m  a   veteran…  I  resent  the  first-­‐timers.”    

15  Reasons  to  Live  is  something  of  a  departure  for  you…    

It’s a  departure  in  almost  every  way  –  I  had  a  crew,  I’ve  never  had  a  crew  before,  I  [previously]  shot   everything  myself.  And  structurally,  it’s  completely  different,  because  it’s  15  stories  told  like  a  list,  one   after  another,  rather  than  inter-­‐cutting.     All  of  my  films  have  basically  been  ‘talking  head’  films,  this  is  my  first  ‘not  talking  heads’  film.  It  has  lots  of   B-­‐roll  and  it  looks  conventional…  that’s  the  tip  of  the  iceberg  I  guess.    

What  can  people  expect  from  the  film?     The  film  is  15  stories  ranging  in  every  way  that  a  story  can  range  from,  from  big  and  small,  to  just  slice-­‐of-­‐ life.  They  are  stories  where  big,  surprising  things  happen,  and  stories  that  are  more  static,  like  short   stories.  Each  story  in  some  way  benefits  from  the  motion  created  in  the  last  one…  it’s  not  15  short  stories   without  a  theme  –  there  is  a  way  that  the  stories  are  connected,  even  though  on  the  surface  they’re  not.   I  think  it’s  a  very  emotional  film,  and  I  think  that  many  of  the  stories,  perhaps  on  their  own,  wouldn’t  be.   But  somehow  put  together,  there’s  something  that  builds.  And  I’m  proud  that  that  worked  out.     How  did  you  come  across  Ray  Robertson’s  book  Why  Not?  15  Reasons  to  Live?       The  writer  is  a  neighbor  and  I  ran  across  him  at  a  record  store,  and  we  just  started  talking  about  how  all  of   his  books  have  been  optioned  but  never  made.  He  told  me  that  he  had  a  non-­‐fiction  book  coming  out  and   maybe  I  was  interested.  Generally  speaking,  when  somebody  says  that  it  doesn’t  turn  out  to  be  anything,   but  when  he  said  the  title,  15  Reasons  to  Live…  there  was  something  about  those  words.     I  think  if  he’d  said  10  or  five  it  wouldn’t  have  been  the  same,  but  15  just  seemed  like  a  nice  number  for  a   lot  of  short  stories  mounting  together  and  I  was  looking  to  do  something  different  –  as  different  as   possible,  because  I’d  had  a  retrospective  [at  Hot  Docs  in  2011]  and  I  was  tired  of  being  typecast.     And  also  the  fact  that  it  sounded  inherently  positive  –  I’d  just  had  a  film  that  I  was  very  proud  of,  but  it   was  dark,  very  dark.  And  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  I  ended  up  winning  a  Genie  for  best  documentary  that   year  [for  A  Hard  Name],  it  didn’t  get  into  a  single  film  festival  outside  of  Toronto.     It  was  about  ex-­‐cons.  So  I  thought,  let’s  see  what  happens  when  you  make  a  film  that’s  positive.  I  think  my   other  films  are  redemptive  and  life  affirming  and  all  that,  but  this  one  is  positive  from  the  outset,  whereas   the  ex-­‐con  film  was  pretty  dark  and  brutal.    

How did  that  reflect  in  funding  this  film?     It  was  commissioned  by  TVO  and  got  a  second  window  from  Shaw,  but  pretty  much  everything  else  that  I   normally  got,  in  terms  of  finishing  funds  and  things  like  that,  I  didn’t  get.  I  did  sort  of  think,  ‘Oh,  people   want  me  to  keep  doing  the  same  thing,’  but  whatever;  it’s  a  privilege  that  I  got  to  finish  it.     I  thought  that  this’ll  be  a  different  film,  it’ll  have  a  different  journey,  it  won’t  get  into  Hot  Docs,  but  maybe   it’s  something  I  just  have  to  do…  but  it  did  get  into  Hot  Docs,  and…  we’ll  see.  I  was  nervous  about  doing   something  so  different,  but  I  guess  it  sort  of  worked  out.     So  you  find  it’s  getting  harder  to  make  films?     There’s  more  competition.  Once  upon  a  time  when  I  was  a  first-­‐timer,  I  resented  the  veterans.  Now  that   I’m  a  veteran…  I  resent  the  first-­‐timers,  y’know?  There  are  just  too  many  of  them,  and  there  is  something   about  the  documentary  field  where  it’s  almost  like,  the  playing  field  is  too  level.     It  doesn’t  matter  what  your  track  record  is;  you’re  competing  every  time,  more  and  more.  I  think  it  is  true   –  and  it  sounds  like  sour  grapes  –  but  I  think  it  is  true  that  ideas  trump  filmmaking  in  the  documentary   world.  If  somebody  liked  an  idea  by  somebody  who  never  made  a  film,  they’d  probably  go  with  them  over   an  idea  they  didn’t  quite  get  from  somebody  who  had  five  features.     Still,  I’m  really  lucky  that  I  did  get  funded,  but  it  was  hard.     Having  ventured  into  a  different  style  of  filmmaking,  do  you  think  that’s  something  you’ll  now  bring  to   future  projects?     Yeah,  I  think  I  will.  I  thought  that  what  I’d  done  in  the  past  was  simply  to  make  certain  artistic  choices,  but   other  people  thought,  no,  that’s  what  you  ‘do.’  And,  to  some  degree,  maybe  I  started  to  believe  that   myself;  ‘That’s  what  you’re  good  at,  the  other  stuff  you’re  not  good  at,  don’t  even  try  it…’     But  now  I  feel  like  I’ve  proven  to  myself  that,  although  that  “other  thing”  may  be  what  I’m  best  at,  I  can   still  work  in  other  ways.  In  the  future,  I  am  trying  to  find  different  kinds  of  films  to  make.  

Q&A: filmmaker  Alan  Zweig  on  adapting   Ray  Robertson’s  Fifteen  Reasons  to  Live   Sue  Carter  Finn­‐filmmaker-­‐alan-­‐zweig-­‐on-­‐adapting-­‐ray-­‐ robertsons-­‐fifteen-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live/     Toronto  filmmaker  Alan  Zweig  (Vinyl,  I,  Curmudgeon)  knew  author  Ray  Robertson  (What  Happened  Later,   Gently  Down  the  Stream)  well  enough  to  nod  a  greeting  on  the  street,  but  it  wasn’t  until  a  chance  meeting   at  a  favourite  west-­‐end  used  record  store  that  the  two  started  discussing  their  creative  projects  with  each   other.     On  Saturday,  Zweig’s  new  documentary,  15  Reasons  to  Live,  premieres  at  the  Hot  Docs  film  festival  in   Toronto.  Inspired  by  Robertson’s  personal  essay  collection,  Why  Not?  Fifteen  Reasons  to  Live,  Zweig   constructed  his  film  using  short  vignettes  about  people  who  embody  the  book’s  spirit.     Q&Q  spoke  to  Zweig  about  his  documentary  and  relationship  to  Robertson’s  book.     What  made  you  think  this  book  would  make  a  good  film?       When  Ray  told  me  the  book  was  called  Fifteen  Reasons  to  Live  (he  didn’t  mention  in  that  first   conversation  that  the  book  is  actually  called  Why  Not?),  there  were  many  things  about  those  words  that   hit  me  hard.  I  have  a  relationship  with  lists  in  that  I  don’t  make  them.  Most  of  my  life  I  have  said,  “Are   there  reasons  to  live?  What  choice  do  I  have?”  I  also  felt  there  was  a  strong  connection  between  the  book   and  other  films  of  mine,  in  particular  I,  Curmudgeon,  which  is  about  negativity  and  trying  to  move  on.  I   decided  I  was  going  to  do  it  before  I  even  read  the  book.     What  did  you  think  after  you  read  the  book?      The  book  is  not  like  your  normal  self-­‐help  book  –  it’s  for  people  who  don’t  like  self-­‐help  books  because   it’s  told  from  such  an  eccentrically  personal  point  of  view.  I  don’t  know  if  Ray  would  describe  his  book  this   way,  but  I  have  described  my  film  as  Oprah  for  cynics.     I  hoped  there  would  be  lots  of  things  I  could  use  for  the  film.  But  Ray’s  reasons  are  more  like  essays  and   less  like  stories,  which  would  have  made  it  easier.  In  the  end  I  decided  the  film  couldn’t  be  my  15  reasons   to  live  –  it  would  have  to  come  from  the  book.  I  was  going  to  take  it  as  a  sacred  text.     How  would  you  describe  the  relationship  between  the  book  and  the  film?    

When I  couldn’t  find  a  story  I  would  go  back  to  the  book  as  a  reminder  of  how  it  inspired  me,  to  see  what   Ray  meant  and  see  how  I  could  apply  that  to  a  story.  He  gave  me  a  map,  and  I’m  going  to  all  those  places,   but  I  might  not  take  the  same  route  he  did.     What  was  the  most  challenging  subject?      Intoxication.  I  didn’t  want  it  to  be  about  mushrooms  or  Carlos  Castaneda,  I  wanted  it  to  be  about  alcohol.   It  wasn’t  simply  because  I  don’t  get  drunk  myself  much.  What  is  a  good  story  about  getting  drunk?   Individuality  and  Critical  Mind  were  also  challenging.  While  I  agree  individuality  is  a  nice  feature  to  go   through  life  with,  it’s  also  somewhat  self-­‐congratulatory.  Ray  can  get  away  with  it  in  the  book  because  it’s   extremely  personal.  I  had  to  find  stories  that  would  come  in  the  back  door.     Has  Ray  seen  the  film?      He  will  see  it  Saturday  for  the  first  time.  Sometimes  I  would  see  him  in  the  neighbourhood  and  tell  him   about  the  stories.  Sometimes  Ray  seemed  excited,  other  times  he  said  that  wasn’t  what  he  meant.  But  I   think  he’ll  like  it.  He’s  been  very  encouraging.     I’m  not  happy  that  all  his  novels  haven’t  been  made  into  films,  but  I  think  it’s  a  cool  thing  that  the  book   you  might  have  thought  least  likely  to  be  made  into  a  film  will  be  the  first.      

Meeting at  Toronto     record  shop  leads  to  Hot  Docs   Alex  Grifitth       A  chance  encounter  at  a  local  record  shop  has  brought  Toronto-­‐based  filmmaker  Alan  Zweig  back  to  Hot   Docs  with  a  documentary  on  fifteen  loosely  related  stories  called  15  Reasons  To  Live.  Inspired  by  Ray   Robertson's  collection  of  essays  Why  Not?  15  Reasons  to  Live,  Zweig  interviewed  thirteen  individuals  who   had  life-­‐changing  experiences,  and  inserted  two  of  his  own.  The  auteur  who  made  a  movie  about  his   audophilia,  Vinyl,  and  concerning  misanthropy  in  the  self-­‐titled  I,  Curmudgeon,  still  has  the  stylistic  streak   of  Bukowski,  but  there  is  the  slightest  hint  that  he  may  be  taking  his  career  in  a  slightly  less  inward-­‐looking   and  autobiographical  direction.     How  did  you  come  to  adapt  Ray's  book?     One  day  I  saw  him  at  the  She  Said  Boom  in  Roncesvalles  and  that's  the  first  time  I  had  talked  to  him  in  a   long  time.  He  said  that  maybe  since  I  was  interested  in  non-­‐fiction  maybe  I'd  like  to  adapt  this  book  of   essays  he  had  coming  out.  Then  he  told  me  the  title.  I  think  that  there  were  a  lot  of  things  happening  in   my  life  at  the  time  that  made  those  four  words  hit  me.     The  story  titled  "Praise"  concerned  Jim  Shedden  and  the  1000  Songs  blog  on  Facebook,  where  visitors  can   log  reactions  and  personal  memories  relating  to  songs.     Jim  worked  at  the  AGO,  in  the  experimental  film  scene  -­‐  these  were  things  I  was  on  the  very  fringe  of,  but   not  my  community.  Then  I  heard  about  the  blog,  about  a  hundred  songs  in...I  like  keeping  a  diary  but  I   didn't  have  a  good  reason  to  keep  one  and  then  this  guy  comes  along  and  says  'do  you  want  to  write  your   diary  in  reaction  to  my  diary?'"       Were  you  conscious  that  the  film  almost  exclusively  took  place  in  Toronto?     That  wasn't  on  purpose  but  I  like  [seeing  familiar  places].  I'll  see  something  in  an  American  TV  show  and   say  'Isn't  that  my  street?'     Is  your  interview  style  always  to  play  the  devil's  advocate?  To  insert  your  own  doubts  about  the   dependability  of  friends  when  you  hear  of  remarkable  bonds  of  friendship?    

It's one  thing  for  me  to  feel  that  way  in  real  life;  it's  another  thing  for  me  to  express  that  in  the  film.  I   always  struggle  with  what  part  of  my  reaction  to  include.  The  worst  thing  is  to  interview  somebody  who   has  told  the  same  story  one  hundred  times,  and  they  have  a  script  in  their  head.  You  want  them  to  say   something  that  sounds  genuine  and  sometimes  the  only  way  to  do  that  is  to  argue  or  upset  them.   Has  the  filmmaking  process  given  you  an  epiphany  or  mini-­‐epiphany?     I  changed  before  I  started  filming.  I  say  something  at  the  end  of  the  film  about  choosing  happiness  and   how  I  reacted  when  I  heard  it.  That's  the  first  time  I  heard  that  and  didn't  think  that  was  bullshit.  But  I   heard  so  many  stories  where  that  appeared  to  be  borne  out,  and  it  broke  my  back,  I  couldn't  deny  it:  you   choose  to  let  happiness  into  your  life.     The  loose  structure  of  different  self-­‐contained  stories  reminds  me  of  songs  in  an  album  -­‐  which  album   would  you  compare  it  to?     Maybe  Moondance,  but  that's  too  much.  I'd  love  to  think  Blonde  on  Blonde  but  maybe  that's  too  much   too.  I  want  to  say  Sunshine  Superman,  which  is  secretly  great,  it's  a  truly  great  album.  I  think  a  song  in  an   album  is  a  better  analogy  than,  say,  chapters  in  a  book.      

15 Reasons  to  Live:     How  Alan  Zweig  Found  His  Story­‐help-­‐people-­‐understand-­‐world/15-­‐reasons-­‐live-­‐how-­‐alan-­‐zweig-­‐found-­‐his-­‐story  

Recently  in  the  National  Post,  director  Alan  Zweig  wrote  a  very  insightful  “diary”  about  how  his  latest  film,   15  Reasons  to  Live,  came  to  be.     In  the  article,  he  talks  about  how  his  personal  life  has  been  the  inspiration  for  his  filmography  –  one   entirely  commissioned  by  TVO  –  but  how  he  strayed  away  from  that  in  his  previous  film,  A  Hard  Name.  As   in  A  Hard  Name,  he  thought  his  next  film  would  take  him  back  to  the  world  of  crime  and  criminals,  but  a   chance  encounter  with  Ray  Robertson,  author  of  the  book  Why  Not?  Fifteen  Reasons  to  Live,  gave  him  a   reason  to  look  elsewhere  for  his  next  story,  and  he  was  excited  by  the  challenges  that  the  new  idea   presented.     “Luckily  for  me,  TVO  decided  to  take  the  chance  with  me,  and  trust  that  those  challenges  were   surmountable,”  said  Alan.  One  year  later,  15  Reasons  to  Live  was  the  result.     15  Reasons  premiered  this  past  Saturday  at  the  Hot  Docs  festival  and  airs  on  TVO  in  early  2014.  It’s  a  great   example  of  the  kind  of  thought-­‐provoking  programming  TVO  supports  and  TVO  is  proud  to  play  a  role  in   supporting  Canadian  filmmakers  like  Alan.    

Daniel Garber  talks  with  Alan  Zweig   about  his  new  documentary  15  Reasons   to  Live     Daniel  Garber­‐garber-­‐talks-­‐with-­‐alan-­‐zweig-­‐about-­‐his-­‐new-­‐ documentary-­‐15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live/     Hi,  this  is  Daniel  Garber  at  the  Movies  for  and  CIUT  89.5  FM.     What  makes  you  get  out  of  bed  in  the  morning?  What  little  things  get  you  through  the  day?  What  makes   you  commit?  What  do  you  do  when  you  suffer  an  enormous  loss?     A  new  documentary  follows  15  diverse  people  who  tell  their  brief,  honest  stories  to  the  filmmaker,  in   sequence  —  some  life-­‐affirming,  some  inconsequential.  Whale  watchers,  a  man  who  walks  around  the   world,  a  massage  artist,  a  lighthouse  keeper.  This  is  an  intensely  personal  movie,  though  not  necessarily   intimate.  It’s  called  Fifteen  Reasons  to  Live,  it’s  directed  by  Alan  Zweig  and  it’s  having  its  world  premier  at   Toronto’s  Hotdocs  documentary  festival.  Alan    talks  about  why  he  made  the  film,  how  he  chose  the   subjects,  whether  this  represents  a  shift  in  his  filmmaking  style…  and  more.    

Follow the  link  below  for  full  audio  interview­‐garber-­‐talks-­‐with-­‐alan-­‐zweig-­‐about-­‐his-­‐new-­‐ documentary-­‐15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live/  

This is  the  real  life:     Mini  reviews  of  this  year’s  Hot  Docs  films   Chris  Knight­‐docs-­‐minis/     In  his  latest,  Toronto  filmmaker  Zweig  reminds  us  that  happiness  is  a  choice  you  have  to  make  every  day,   and  asks  ordinary  people  to  explain  what  keeps  them  going.  Whether  it’s  frequenting  a  mall  to  be  alone   or  saving  a  humpback  whale,  there  are  elements  in  each  of  these  15  stories  –  a  few  of  which  include   Zweig’s  own  accounts  –  that  are  both  relatable  and  utterly  compelling.  2.5  stars  M.R.    

10 films  getting  the  biggest     advance-­‐buzz  at  Hot  Docs   Blake  Williams­‐buzz_at_hot_docs/     A  new  Alan  Zweig  film  is  like  Toronto's  doc  community's  version  of  a  new  Woody  Allen  film,  only  they   come  less  frequently  and  tend  to  be  even  more  self-­‐loathing  -­‐  except  for  this  one.  Continuing  in  the   selfless  tradition  he  explored  in  his  last  Hot  Docs  success,  A  Hard  Name,  Zweig  turns  his  camera  from  his   own  problems  onto  the  inspiring,  life-­‐affirming  experiences  of  other.  Motivated  by  a  list  he  came  across  of   the  supposed  fifteen  best  reasons  to  live  one's  life  to  the  fullest,  this  film  finds  a  subject  to  correspond  to   each  point  on  the  list.  Again,  heart  strings,  etc.      

15 reasons  to  watch  this     soothing  documentary     Katrina  Onstad­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐watch-­‐this-­‐soothing-­‐ documentary/article11551448/   A  low-­‐level  hum  of  sadness  has  run  through  our  house  lately,  a  byproduct  of  tragedies  elsewhere.   The  radio  is  usually  on,  and  for  months  the  airwaves  have  been  vibrating  with  calamity:  Newtown,   sexual  violence  in  India,  Amanda  Todd  and  Rehtaeh  Parsons.  And  now  a  disaster  trifecta:  Boston,   Texas  and  an  alleged  thwarted  terrorist  attack  on  a  Via  Rail  train.     Yes,  there  are  criminally  underreported  tragedies  in  forsaken  corners  of  the  world,  and  yes,  most  of   us  are  fine,  lucky,  uninjured.  I  am  at  neither  the  centre  nor  the  perimeter.  I’m  not  the  friend,  shaken,   who  crossed  the  finish  line  an  hour  before  the  bombs  went  off,  or  a  student  at  the  University  of   Quebec  who  worked  in  a  lab  beside  a  man  with  suspected  al-­‐Qaeda  links.     But  still,  tragedy  comes  at  the  bystanders,  minute  by  minute,  via  our  phones  and  computers;  it’s   different  from  tangible,  personal  loss.  The  school  sends  advice  to  parents  that  says  to  turn  it  off  and   let  the  kids  lead  the  conversation.  But  there  are  fewer  guidelines  for  adults.  We  aren’t  survivors  of   tragedy,  just  “media  survivors.”  Our  only  symptom  may  be  compassion  fatigue,  a  psychic  numbing   from  relentless  exposure  to  disaster  from  a  distance.  But  I  feel  the  opposite:  over-­‐sensitized,  alert   and  alarmed.     I  was  relieved  to  watch  a  documentary  that  soothed  through  the  simple  assertion  that  life  remains   valuable  and  well  lived  by  so  many  people  whose  stories  do  not  make  the  news.  The  film  15  Reasons   to  Live,  playing  at  Toronto’s  Hot  Docs  festival  this  week,  is  a  study  of  joy  and  pain  that  is  quietly   instructive  but  mostly  entertaining.  It  could  be  called  How  to  Be  Happy,  and  offers  comfort  to  those   of  us  who  would  never  buy  a  book  with  a  title  like  that,  but  still  really  want  to  know.     The  film  is  based  on  a  book  of  essays  by  Ray  Robertson,  a  novelist  I  met  when  we  shared  a  podium  a   few  years  ago.  I  was  reading  from  my  first  book,  and  he  from  his  sixth.  He  had  a  cowboy  hat,  a   handlebar  mustache  and  actual  fans.  No  one  bought  my  book,  and  he  was  kind  about  that,  and   palpably  in  love  with  the  writing  life.  Since  then,  Robertson  has  written  that  around  that  time,  he   was  dealing  with  serious  depression  after  struggling  with  OCD.     And  so  he  wrote  a  non-­‐fiction  book  to  make  sense  of  it,  mixing  philosophy,  rock  ’n’  roll  and  memoir   in  a  series  of  essays  under  headings  such  as  Home,  Individuality  and  Intoxication  (the  latter  is  close   to  his  heart).  Filmmaker  Alan  Zweig,  best  known  for  his  neurotic-­‐with-­‐a-­‐heart-­‐of-­‐gold  persona  in   documentaries  like  Vinyl  and  I,  Curmudgeon,  has  made  this  list  into  a  movie.  The  two  artists  are  well   matched,  sharing  curiosity  about  a  type  of  loneliness  –  the  drifting,  solitary  male  artist.  

The film  follows  Robertson’s  list,  but  drops  his  philosophizing  in  favour  of  short  vignettes  with   different  people  recounting  personal  stories.  In  Critical  Mind,  a  nine-­‐year-­‐old  girl  talks  about   standing  up  to  Catholic-­‐school  tyranny.  In  Love,  a  woman  permits  her  husband  to  walk  around  the   world  for  10  years:  “I  loved  him  enough  to  give  him  the  freedom  to  express  himself  the  way  he  saw   fit,”  she  says.     If  this  sounds  inspiring,  it  is,  and  I  say  that  as  someone  who  is  constitutionally  suspicious  of  any   triumphing  of  the  human  spirit  on  film.  But  15  Reasons  is  a  documentary,  with  that  form’s  inherent   immediacy  and  humility.  It  homes  in  on  small,  human  profundities.  Zweig,  whose  disembodied  voice   interviews  the  subjects,  remains  his  unsentimental,  incredulous  self  even  when  spinning  the  heart-­‐ warming  tale  of  a  humpback  freed  from  a  fishing  net  by  whale  watchers  (Duty  –  surely  it  has  been   optioned  by  Disney).     The  final  segment,  Death,  is  the  film’s  most  powerful.  Atop  animation,  Zweig  reveals  his  admiration   for  a  successful  artistic  couple  he  knows,  Don  and  Tracy,  who  turn  out  to  be  Don  McKellar  and  Tracy   Wright,  actors-­‐writers-­‐directors.  Zweig,  who  sees  himself  as  the  consummate  outsider,  is  pleased  to   be  invited  to  their  annual  pear  party,  where  fecund  trees  in  their  backyard  produce  too  much  fruit   each  summer.  Then  Wright  becomes  ill  with  pancreatic  cancer.  Zweig  is  anxious  about  what  to  say  in   the  face  of  this  tragedy.       Finally,  at  a  party  that  will  likely  be  their  last  encounter,  he  awkwardly  asks  her  if  the  pear  trees   bloomed,  as  they  failed  to  the  year  before.  Yes,  she  says:  “Everything  wants  to  live.”     It  is  the  film’s  final  line.     After  the  screening,  I  dug  around  for  a  C.S.  Lewis  quote  that  seemed  like  related  comfort:  “Tragedy  is   more  important  than  love.  Out  of  all  human  events,  it  is  tragedy  alone  that  brings  people  out  of  their   own  petty  desires  and  into  awareness  of  other  humans’  suffering.”  For  a  while,  the  hum  faded.  


Hot Docs  2013:  '15  Reasons  To  Live'   Looks  On  The  Bright  Side   Mark  Wigmore­‐docs-­‐2013-­‐15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live/    

Alan Zweig:  Canada's  greatest  documentarian?       His  latest  film,  "15  Reasons  To  Live",  provides  a  strong  argument  for  that  statement,  and  once   again  Zweig  will  be  showcased  at  this  year's  Hot  Docs  festival.     The  premise  of  this  doc  came  from  a  simple  place.  Chatting  with  an  acquaintance  in  a  record   store,  the  man  told  Zweig  that  he  had  put  together  a  list  of  15  reasons  to  live.  Before  he  read  a   word,  Zweig  knew  he  would  be  looking  for  stories  to  correspond  with  whatever  was  written   down,  and  that  is  what  he  did.  The  results  are  stunning  and  euphoric,  and  given  Zweig's  well   chronicled  lonely  journey  through  his  own  life,  the  film  takes  on  an  even  sunnier  context.      

"From '77  to  2000  I  was  a  failure,"  Zweig  said  in  an  interview  I  did  with  him  in  2011.  "When  I  saw   my  films  again,  I  thought,  'boy  you  were  pretty  sad  back  then.'"     Sad  indeed.  His  early  work  introduced  doc  lovers  to  a  half-­‐glass-­‐empty  curmudgeon  of  a  man.   Zweig  often  appeared,  or  was  even  central,  to  the  narrative  of  his  stories.  In  his  cult  classic   "Vinyl",  he  hangs  out  with  compulsive  Toronto  record  collectors  while  confronting  his  own   shortcomings  as  a  social  animal  in  modern  society.  "I,  Curmudgeon"  is  an  even  deeper  look  into   Zweig's  psyche,  the  glum  director  offering  up  confessions  about  his  feelings  on  life  into  a  mirror.   But  there  was  something  very  watchable  about  his  testimonials  and  Zweig's  brand  of  filmmaking   drew  a  dedicated  fan  base.       It  would  be  hard  to  argue  against  the  positive  track  Zweig  seems  to  be  on  these  days.  He  won  a   Genie  Award  (now  called  the  Canadian  Screen  Awards)  for  his  devastating  and  empathetic  look   at  criminal  life  in  "A  Hard  Name"  in  2009,  and  Hot  Docs  put  together  a  focus  on  his  films  in  2011.   He's  recently  even  become  a  family  man.     In  "15  Reasons  To  Live",  Zweig  uses  personal  stories  from  15  subjects  to  paint  a  picture  of  hope.   Subtitles  like  Love,  Solitude,  Praise,  Work,  Meaning,  The  Body  and  Death  are  explored  in   gorgeous  little  vignettes.  In  'Love',  Zweig  meets  a  man  who  decides  to  walk  around  the  world,  all   with  the  financial  and  emotional  support  of  his  wife.  In  'The  Body',  a  man  named  Peter  builds   rock  sculptures  in  his  local  river,  using  physical  exertion  to  put  his  life  on  track  and  deal  with   anger  issues.  And  in  'Duty',  a  family  makes  the  courageous  decision  to  save  a  humpback  whale   from  a  fishing  net  while  traveling  in  a  small  boat  in  Baja  Mexico.     The  stories  are  inspiring,  touching  and  always  thoughtful.  Once  again,  Zweig  uses  his  voice-­‐over   and  interview  skills  to  put  his  signature  brand  into  the  film.  There  is  a  comfort  to  his  tone,  often   caring,  but  respectful  to  give  space  to  his  subjects.  Some  have  compared  him  to  Michael  Moore,   but  he  doesn't  use  the  same  heartstring  pulleys  that  his  American  counterpart  is  often  guilty  of.   Zweig  also  takes  time  in  his  latest  doc  to  tell  a  few  of  his  own  stories,  a  reminder  that  he  too  is   yearning  for  reasons  to  live.     "I'm  not  good  at  coming  up  with  subjects  for  documentaries.  People  always  say  I  am  negative.  I   am  trying  to  temporarily  destroy  brand  because  it's  a  bit  of  burden.  I've  been  typecast   essentially,"  Zweig  said  of  his  body  of  work  in  2011.     "15  Reasons  To  Live"  is  full  of  hope,  joy  and  inspiration,  but  it's  still  very  much  a  Zweig  film.  He   broke  the  mould  but  was  true  to  himself.  Zweig  continues  to  dazzle  and  challenge  his  own  brand   with  his  latest  offering  and  I  for  one  can't  wait  to  see  what  he  does  next.  

15 Reasons  to  Live   Angelo  Muredda­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live/     DIRECTED  BY  ALAN  ZWEIG  (Canada,  Canadian  Spectrum)       Inspired  by  Ray  Robertson’s  eponymous  essay  collection,  Toronto  filmmaker  Alan  Zweig’s  15  Reasons  to   Live  offers  a  series  of  vignettes  about  why  life  is  worth  prolonging  despite  its  inherent  trials.  As  the  high   concept  would  suggest,  this  approach  yields  something  of  a  mixed  bag,  with  stories  ranging  from  the   deeply  poignant  (a  novelist  who  must  retrain  himself  to  read  after  a  stroke)  to  the  mawkish  (a  couple’s   attempt  to  rescue  a  whale,  captured  on  home  video),  but  Zweig’s  characteristic  warm  embrace  of  his   subjects  and  grouchy-­‐cum-­‐friendly  narration  makes  it  an  amiable  ramble  all  the  same.     One  wonders  at  times  whether  the  source  text  doesn’t  hurt  the  film’s  structure  more  than  it  helps.  That’s   especially  true  in  Zweig’s  profile  of  local  activist  Adam  Nobody,  whose  injuries  and  detainment  at  the   hands  of  police  during  Toronto’s  G-­‐20  summit  are  a  bit  cryptically  introduced  as  “humour.”  But  the  best   portraits,  including  Zweig’s  sweet  reminiscence  about  Toronto  film  staple  Tracy  Wright  and  another   segment  about  an  elementary  school  student  who  openly  resisted  the  religious  dogma  of  her  institution,   have  an  uncommon  depth  and  generosity  to  them  that  makes  up  for  such  hiccups.      

Hot Docs  Daily:   15  Reasons  to  Live ,   Our   Nixon ,   The  Shebabs  of  Yarmouk   Kiva  Reardon­‐docs-­‐daily-­‐15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live-­‐our-­‐nixon-­‐the-­‐shebabs-­‐of-­‐yarmouk/     Day  three  of  Hot  Docs  has  some  strong  offerings  for  the  first  full  weekend  of  the  festival.  Canadian   favourite  Alan  Zweig  turns  his  lens  towards  the  philosophical,  examining  why  despite  all  the  trials  and   tribulations  life  is  worth  living  in  15  Reasons  to  Live  (6:30  p.m.,  TIFF  Bell  Lightbox).  Having  previous  looked   at  what  drives  people  to  collect  records  (Vinyl)  or  what  it  means  to  search  for  love  (Loveable),  now  Zweig   is  inspired  by  essayist  Ray  Robertson.  Though  it  falters  structurally  at  times,  it  is  a  warm  and  affecting  film   that  probes  far  deeper  than  Hallmark  card  sentimentality.        

15 Reasons  to  Live   Robert  Bell­‐directed_by_alan_zweig  

As  evidenced  by  the  rather  ambitious  and  indirectly  presumptive  title,  Alan  Zweig's  documentary,  15  Reasons  to  Live,   attempts  to  deconstruct  the  human  experience  through  broad  extrapolation  from  a  sample  audience.  It's  a  work  that   intends  to  form  meaning  amidst  chaos,  taking  a  very  literal  list  of  intangible  identifiers—love,  duty,  friendship,  work,   solitude,  and  so  on—and  giving  them  a  brief,  thematically  appropriate,  anecdotal  face,  not  unlike  what  Krzysztof   Kieslowski  did  far  more  successfully  with  the  Polish  miniseries,  The  Decalogue  .       Of  distinction  is  Zweig's  style  or  auteur  projection,  which  is  that  of  angst-­‐ridden  narcissism  imposed  on  his   documentary  subjects.  While  they  speak,  he  often  interrupts  and  relates  their  stories  back  to  himself,  interrupting  his   own  flow  to  tell  stories  about  his  own  life,  ostensibly  whining  about  the  world  not  understanding  or  appreciating  him.       This  self-­‐involvement  is  most  obvious  in  the  segment  on  intoxication,  wherein  a  young  woman's  decision  to  lose   control  and  partake  in  an  air  show  excursion  with  complete  strangers  becomes  a  tale  of  Zweig's  own  inability  to   indulge  in  the  spirits.  But  in  the  "love"  and  "duty"  segments,  which  detail  a  man's  decision  to  walk  around  the  world   and  the  work  a  small  group  of  people  did  to  free  a  whale  from  a  net,  he  mostly  shuts  up,  allowing  those  pieces  to   work  more  effectively.       Amidst  these  very  brief  stories  of  stressed  out  mothers  with  painful  regrets  and  poseur  urbanite  protesters,  Zweig   takes  two  of  the  titular  "reasons"  for  himself,  telling  tales  of  death  in  friends  and  neighbours.  The  rudimentary   animation  and  concise  short  story  narration  actually  helps  break  up  the  litany  of  experiential  examples  of  life   unfolding,  giving  a  bit  of  stylistic  whimsy  to  what  is  essentially  a  visually  dull  talking  heads  affair.       Because  the  segments  are  fleeting,  the  occasional  terrible  example—"humour"  being  one—is  easily  ignored  and   forgotten  once  a  more  compelling  personal  yarn  comes  along  to  fill  the  mostly  superficial  void.       Nothing  about  15  Reasons  to  Live  holds  up  to  its  ambitious  title  in  any  sense  but  the  accessible,  well-­‐paced  format   does  work  in  a  Chicken  Soup  for  the  Soul  sort  of  way,  appealing  in  a  very  twee,  broad  sense.  

Hot Docs  2013:  15  Reasons  to  Live   José  Teodoro­‐docs-­‐2013-­‐15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live    

A battered  yet  indefatigable  optimism  suffuses  the  work  of  Alan  Zweig,  the  Toronto  filmmaker   who  can,  however  reluctantly,  count  himself  among  those  referred  to  in  the  titles  of  both  I,   Curmudgeon  (2004)  and  Lovable  (2007),  two  of  his  more  overtly  personal  films.  Optimism  can   be  a  shrewd  way  of  resolving  story,  but  it  is  also  a  genuine  survival  technique,  a  way  to  endure   hard  times.  Near  the  end  of  15  Reasons  to  Live,  Zweig,  in  voice-­‐over,  concedes  to  the  notion   that  happiness  can  be  a  choice.  Big-­‐hearted  and  relentlessly  curious,  one  of  Canada’s  premiere   group-­‐portraitists  relays  in  his  new  film  15  true  stories  of  people  making  such  choices,   sometimes  at  enormous  personal  risk,  sometimes  by  simply  saying  yes  to  an  unlikely  offer.     For  Zweig,  that  offer  came  in  the  form  of  a  creative  provocation  prompted  by  the  premise  of   Why  Not?  Fifteen  Reasons  to  Live,  a  nonfiction  book  by  his  friend  Ray  Robertson,  itemizing  its   author’s  personal  tactics  for  overcoming  depression.  “What  struck  me,”  explains  Zweig,  “was   the  idea  that  a  list  of  reasons  would  require  a  list  of  stories,  and  at  that  moment,  that  kind  of   storytelling  challenge  was  especially  appealing.”     For  more  on  Alan  Zweig  and  his  filmography,  read  our  profile.     Some  of  the  stories  Zweig  found  are  truly  extraordinary.  The  film  hits  the  ground  running  with   its  inaugural  reason  to  live:  LOVE.  Zweig  pays  tribute  to  love’s  seemingly  infinite  malleability  by   telling  the  story  of  Jean  Béliveau  ,  whose  response  to  a  midlife  crisis  was  to  start  walking— alone—all  over  the  world,  and  of  Luce  Archambault,  Béliveau’s  wife,  who  gave  her  blessing  in   exchange  for  the  understanding  that  the  couple  would  reunite  once  a  year  in  whatever  locale   Béliveau  found  himself.  Some  stories  seem  drawn  from  myth.  Peter  Reidel,  whose  story  Zweig   uses  to  represent  the  BODY,  was  a  rage-­‐filled  ex-­‐con  who  moved  to  Toronto  without  knowing  a   soul.  He  found  solace  in  wading  into  rivers  and  streams  and  constructing  large,  enigmatic  rock  

formations with  his  bare  hands.  Other  stories  are  more  familiar,  yet  no  less  moving.  To  illustrate   the  life-­‐affirming  power  of  WORK,  Zweig  profiles  Mark  Sun,  who  abandoned  a  lucrative  yet   spirit-­‐crushing  career  as  an  import-­‐export  trader  in  China,  moved  to  Canada,  and,  seemingly  by   chance,  embarked  on  a  new  career  as  a  massage  therapist,  which  imbued  his  life  with  a   desperately  needed  sense  of  meaning.     From  the  compulsive  collectors  surveyed  in  Vinyl  (2000)  to  the  varied  individuals  struggling  with   life  after  incarceration  in  A  Hard  Name  (2009),  Zweig’s  films  are  distinguished  by  their  emphasis   on  the  hidden  connective  tissue  that  binds  groups  of  people  together.  “I’ve  thought  of  all  my   films  as  collective  stories,”  says  Zweig.  “When  you  weave  together  bits  of  interviews,  as  I  did  in   all  my  previous  films,  you  automatically  create  connections.  In  this  one,  I  knew  I  wasn’t  going  to   weave  the  stories,  but,  of  course,  I  hoped  that  connections  of  some  kind  would  be  created   nonetheless,  that  a  collective  story  would  emerge,  however  indiscernible.”     Perhaps  the  key  ingredient  in  seeing  through  such  a  project  was  the  same  one  underlying  every   one  of  its  stories:  faith.  “I’ve  always  followed  my  gut,”  Zweig  claims.  “For  a  long  time  while   making  15  Reasons,  I  thought  my  gut  had  finally  steered  me  the  wrong  way.  But  as  I  look  at  the   finished  film,  I’m  feeling  like  I  got  away  with  it—and  that  I  owe  my  gut  an  apology.”        


Hot Docs  2013  Preview­‐docs-­‐2013-­‐preview.html


Another edition  of  Toronto's  beloved  docmentary  fim  festival  Hot  Docs  Just  began  yesterday  but  kicks  in  to  full  gear   today.  And  I  haven't  really  taken  a  gander  at  the  schedule  at  all.  No  media  accreditation  this  year  so  what  ever  I  see  this   year  will  be  on  my  own  dime,  but  the  festival  has  graciously  given  me  access  to  screeners  of  some  of  the  music   documentaries,  which  I'm  very  appreciative  so  expect  to  see  reviews  of  those  in  the  future.  With  the  Toronto   International  Film  Festival,  Hot  Docs  and  the  numerous  smaller  film  festivals  that  Toronto  plays  host  to,  it's  a  great  city  to   be  a  film  fan.  For  much  of  my  life  I  was  very  much  a  music  fan  but  when  it  came  to  films  I  was  very  random,  watching   anything  from  whatever  was  coming  out  of  Hollywood  to  the  odd  indie  /  art  film.  But  over  the  the  last  6  years  (especially   due  to  TIFF,  but  also  due  in  no  small  part  to  great  television  programming  which  has  become  much  more  story-­‐based)  I   think  I'm  slowly  gravitating  to  film.    One  of  the  docs  I'm  hoping  to  catch  is  one  by  Alan  Zweig  who's  best  known  for  Vinyl   his  introspective  examination  on  the  subject  of  vinyl  record  collectors.  His  new  one  is  called  15  Reasons  To  Live,  and  is   collaborative  effort  between  Zweig  and  author  Ray  Robertson,  the  pair  who  started  out  as  neighborhood  acquaintances   and  is  based  on  Roberton's  book  Why  Not?  Fifteen  Reasons  to  Live.  Music  for  me  has  always  for  the  most  part  been  about   in-­‐the-­‐now  ie.  what  mood  /  emotions  I'm  currently  feeling.  Documentaries  /  films  go  beyond  your  present  state,  to  being   much  more  expansive,  whether  it  be  educational,  discovery,  or  opening  one's  self  up  to  the  realm  of  human  emotions.    

Hot Docs  Review:   15  Reasons  to  Live     Trista  DeVries     15  Reasons  to  Live  is  the  latest  film  from  Alan  Zweig,  Canada’s  most  infamous  (and  lovable)  curmudgeon.   Zweig  made  the  film  after  running  into  a  neighbour  who  shared  his  list  of  reasons  to  live  and  realizing  he   had  never  thought  of  reasons  to  live  himself.  Looking  episodically  at  everything  from  friends  and  love  to   intoxication  and  individually  to  critical  thinking  and  praise  the  film  chronicles  15  reasons  why  we  should   live.     I’m  familiar  with  Zweig’s  work,  and  while  he  is  affable,  he  is  certainly  a  cynic.  So  when  I  saw  that  his  latest   film  was  called  15  Reasons  to  Live,  I  was  mildly  dubious  that  he  might  be  playing  a  trick  on  us.   I  can  assure  you,  he  was  not.     Zweig  has  always  been  an  excellent  filmmaker,  and  how  he  has  turned  his  lens  to  doing  something  lots  of   filmmakers  attempt  and  few  achieve:  to  gently  celebrate  real  life,  warts  and  all.     Everything  about  this  film  is  beautiful.  From  a  young  outspoken  and  inquisitive  girl  saying  that  she  never   wishes  that  she  had  different  traits  to  a  group  of  people  helping  a  whale  free  itself  from  a  net  to  the  last   time  Zweig  saw  Tracy  Wright,  every  story  in  this  film  is  a  genuine  celebration  of  life.     Possibly  the  most  beautiful  thing  about  15  Reasons  to  Live  is  that  you  will  not  leave  the  theatre  cheering   for  all  the  “good”  things  in  life.  You  are  unlikely  to  leave  the  theatre  not  crying.  What  you  will  do  is  leave   the  theatre  feeling  celebrated  and  affirmed.     Nice  work,  Mr.  Zweig.     Is  15  Reasons  to  Live  essential  Hot  Docs  viewing?     There  are  no  words  to  explain  how  essential  this  film  is  –  at  Hot  Docs,  or  anywhere  else.  If  you’re  alive,   you  should  see  it,  but  if  you’re  from  Toronto  you  must  absolutely  see  it.  In  fact,  I’m  going  to  lobby  City   Hall  to  make  seeing  this  film  a  condition  of  residence  in  the  city.  The  Ford  administration  is  probably  game   for  something  like  that.      

Hot Docs  2013  Preview:     Canadian  Edition   Andrew  Parker­‐docs-­‐2013-­‐preview-­‐canadian-­‐edition/   Recommended:  No  one  would  have  probably  expected  one  of  the  most  life  affirming  documentaries  in   this  year’s  festival  to  have  come  from  the  likes  of  Alan  Zweig,  yet  here  we  are.     Toronto’s  favourite  curmudgeon  Alan  Zweig  trades  in  a  bit  of  his  trademark  snark  for  a  healthy  dose  of   sincerity  in  the  disarmingly  touching  15  Reasons  to  Live.  After  a  chance  encounter  with  an  acquaintance  at   a  record  store  who  shares  their  reasons  to  live,  Zweig  uses  it  as  a  chance  to  document  the  lives  of  others   and  the  special  moments  that  make  life  worth  living  even  when  it  gets  to  be  incredibly  difficult.     There  are  still  funny  moments  and  the  topics  being  broached  here  cover  a  wide  range  of  human  existence   from  love  to  death  and  everything  in  between,  but  there’s  an  undeniable  warmth  to  everything.  Zweig’s   subjects  are  all  truly  special  and  could  be  worthy  of  their  own  films.  One  wishes  more  time  could  be  spent   with  them  and  while  some  “purists”  might  think  the  film  to  be  a  bit  precious,  Zweig  doesn’t  have  a  twee   or  hamfisted  bone  in  his  body.  It’s  real  feel  good  filmmaking  without  all  the  bullshit.      

15 Reasons  To  Live     Hot  Docs  2013  Review   Jordan  Smith­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live-­‐review   Occasionally,  moments  of  epiphany  can  boil  down  the  colossal  essence  of  mortality  into  simple,  elegant  terms.  For   Alan  Zweig,  director  of  the  LP  obsessed  docu  Vinyl,  one  of  those  momentous  occasions  fittingly  occurred  in  a  local   record  shop  where  an  acquaintance  shared  their  fifteen  reasons  to  continue  through  life’s  ups  and  downs.  Right  there   and  then,  Zweig  decided  to  construct  a  film  around  this  list  birthed  from  Ray  Robertson’s  mental  illness  memoir  ‘Why   Not?  Fifteen  Reasons  To  Live’.  Beyond  the  groping  hands  of  cynicism,  Zweig’s  tear-­‐jerking  15  Reasons  To  Live  pieces   together  a  pastiche  of  tales  that  pulls  hard  on  those  old  heartstrings  while  delving  deep  into  the  human  condition  to   explore  why,  in  the  face  of  the  daunting  daily  grind  or  prolonged  personal  hardship,  people  continue  to  forge  ahead.     Swaying  into  the  appellation  of  compilation,  Zweig  lays  out  his  edict  in  charming  voice  over  and  quickly  moves  right   into  the  first  of  fifteen  episodic  tales,  a  story  of  a  middle  aged  man  who  was  losing  the  taste  for  life,  but  found  that   walking  seemed  to  lift  the  weight  of  the  world  from  his  slumping  shoulders.  With  his  wife’s  blessing,  he  decided  to   quit  his  job  and  venture  out  to  literally  walk  around  the  world,  subsequently  awakening  a  vigor  within  him  not  tapped   beforehand.  Told  with  a  mixture  of  traditional  interviews,  in-­‐action  footage  and  water-­‐coloresque  animations,  Zweig’s   discovered  stories  come  to  life  in  succinct  bursts  of  reverence.  A  profound  discovery  of  life  changing  verve  has  taken   each  of  his  subjects  and  all  he  has  to  do  is  tease  it  out.     The  idyllic  list  contains  those  you  might  expect  –  love,  home,  friendship,  humour,  art,  work  –  but  expands  to  more   novel  rationale  in  reasons  like  intoxication,  solitude,  praise,  individuality,  critical  mind,  meaning,  the  body,  duty  and   death  itself.  With  his  intentions  divulged  up  front,  Zweig  dives  head  long  into  the  inspirational  without  ever  feeling   overly  sentimental.  Even  when  he  decides  to  conclude  with  a  personal  story  that  lovingly  frames  the  passing  of  an   acquaintance  as  a  catalyst  to  bring  people  together  and  more  appreciate  the  life  you’re  given,  the  film  doesn’t   emotionally  manipulate,  but  rather  honestly  moves  with  the  eloquently  articulated  reality  that  we  all  face.   Surprisingly,  this  is  one  of  two  fully  animated  sequences  mixed  into  the  fold.     At  first  a  bit  visually  jarring,  the  animated  scenes  actually  bear  some  of  the  most  emotional  resonance.  Whilst  one   inspires  us  to  pursue  happiness  through  somberly  confronting  life’s  end,  the  other  celebrates  individuality  with  an   underlying  similarity  via  missed  connections  and  departed  neighbors.  The  narrator  tells  of  the  detached  exchange   between  he  and  a  character  who  mysteriously  left  kitschy  ads  on  his  seat  that  matched  the  period  of  his  beloved  old   unlockable  auto.  It  turns  out  the  anonymous  gifter  was  an  eccentric  local  artist  named  Gary  ‘Monster’  whose   premature  passing  mournfully  prevented  their  ever  meeting.  Potently  scripted  and  affectingly  orated,  these  bits  lack   the  naturalism  of  the  interview  driven  pieces,  but  convey  a  tragic  verity  that  allows  us  to  know  these  people   intimately,  even  if  they  never  physically  appear  on  screen.     Everyone  has  an  ailment,  whether  it  be  a  physical  debilitation,  a  moral  conundrum,  a  mental  dilemma  or  an  agonizing   regret.  The  film  reminds  us  that  we  all  have  our  own  little  ways  of  surmounting  the  stress.  Zweig  has  assembled  a   collection  of  ordinary  individuals  who’ve  managed  to  find  happiness,  meaning  or  at  least  gratification  in  life,  making   the  oppressive  melancholy  of  the  everyday  bearable,  the  cursed  dilapidation  of  health  tolerable,  and  every  passing   second  momentously  worthwhile.  For  some,  15  Reasons  To  Live  will  seem  little  more  than  heightened  Hallmark   inspiration,  but  the  film  truly  prevails  as  a  harrowing  testament  to  human  resilience.  Just  be  prepared  to  bring  the   waterworks.      

Capsule Review:   15  Reasons  to  Live   Lisa  Santonato     15  Reasons  to  Live  is  the  most  recent  film  by  Toronto-­‐based  documentary  filmmaker  Alan  Zweig,  best  known  for  his  Genie-­‐award   winning  documentary,  A  Hard  Name.  Based  on  Ray  Robertson’s  book  entitled,  Why  Not?  Fifteen  Reasons  to  Live,  the  film  is  a   collection  of  personal  stories  inspired  by  Robertson’s  reasons  including  Love,  Death,  Humour,  Work,  and  Duty.  The  film  follows   Zweig’s  unique  style  of  personal  storytelling  in  a  new  format:  a  collection  of  short  stories  of  everyday  people  struggling  to  find   meaning  in  their  lives.  It’s  wonderful,  unique,  and  poignant.  Not  to  be  missed.  


Hot Docs  2013:  Five  Capsule  Reviews,   including  “Trucker  and  the  Fox”   John  C­‐docs-­‐2013-­‐five-­‐capsule-­‐reviews-­‐including-­‐ trucker-­‐and-­‐the-­‐fox/    

You know  the  drill.    The  20th  edition  of  Hot  Docs  is  currently  going  strong  in  Toronto,  and  will  be  until  May  5th.    Yesterday  I  shared   my  thoughts  on  Last  Woman  Standing,  The  Life  and  Crimes  of  Doris  Payne,  Chimeras,  We  Cause  Scenes  and  Fight  Like  Soldiers  Die   Like  Children.     Below  are  my  short  reviews  of  five  more  films  playing  right  now  at  the  festival,  including  two  that  first  played  yesterday  and  three   that  are  premiering  later  today.    They  are  all  worth  seeing  for  their  own  reasons.    My  next  two  sets  of  capsule  reviews  will  be  coming   tomorrow  and  Monday,  with  even  more  set  to  be  published  later  in  the  week.    So  watch  out  for  those,  and  you  can  get  more   information  on  the  festival  and  purchase  tickets  right  here.    Enjoy!     15  Reasons  to  Live:    Although  the  director  and  narrator  says  at  the  beginning  of  15  Reasons  to  Live  says  that  he  doesn’t  believe   everything  happens  for  a  reason,  it  would  be  hard  to  walk  away  from  the  film  feeling  the  same  way.    Made  up  of  fifteen  segments   titled  after  the  chapters  in  Ray  Robertson’s  book  of  the  same  name,  filmmaker  Alan  Zweig  captures  personal  interviews  with  various   Canadians,  some  more  well  known  than  others.    Although  a  few  of  the  sequences  could  have  been  a  little  more  fleshed  out,  this  is  a   film  that  continues  to  resonate.    Highlights  include  two  incredibly  touching  animated  scenes,  and  everyone  has  something   interesting  to  say  about  how  happiness  is  a  choice  that  most  people  have  to  make,  and  chance  encounters  can  end  up  having   significant  impacts  on  our  lives.    This  is  an  interesting  little  collection  of  stories  about  how  different  people  feel  their  lives  are   validated,  that  ends  on  a  moving  and  inspirational  note.    

Hot Docs  Review  –  15  Reasons  to  Live   http://www.the-­‐­‐docs-­‐2013-­‐review-­‐15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live/       Alan  Zweig  was  inspired  to  create  15  Reasons  To  Live  after  running  into  an  old  friend,  who  shared  his  list   of  15  reasons  to  live  with  him.  Through  a  series  of  short  interviews,  focusing  on  various  topics  like  love,   work,  home,  and  death,  Zweig  explores  the  range  of  themes  that  his  friend  felt  were  reasons  to  live.  Equal   parts  funny,  sad,  and  inspiring,  15  Reasons  To  Live  is  an  intimate  look  at  what  life  has  to  offer,  if  we’re   willing  to  accept  it.     It  helps  to  better  understand  the  idea  behind  the  film  to  fully  appreciate  what  is  offered.  Each  reason  to   live,  such  as  love,  features  an  interview  with  someone  telling  a  story  about  that  theme.  They’re  not   offering  their  specific  reason  to  live,  but  showing  us  how  important  that  theme  is  to  life.  Using  love  as  an   example,  Zweig  speaks  to  a  man  who  decided  to  walk  around  the  world  after  struggling  through  a  mid-­‐life   crisis.  His  wife  explains  how  she  had  to  let  him  experience  this,  because  loving  someone  means  letting   them  be  happy,  and  they,  in  turn,  will  do  the  same  for  you.  Love  isn’t  the  reason  this  couple  are  alive,  but   their  story  truly  explains  why  love  is  such  an  important  part  of  life.     Love  is  the  first  theme  of  "15  Reasons  To  Live"  From  there,  Zweig  offers  stories  on  ideas  work,  duty,   critical  minds,  and  even  intoxication.  Each  story  is  incredibly  moving,  with  some  proving  to  be  more   emotional  than  others.  The  final  theme  of  death  is  especially  heartbreaking,  as  a  story  of  impending  death   mixes  with  the  joy  of  birth.  Life  isn’t  without  humour  though,  and  the  theme  of  solitude  offers  the  story  of   a  mother  who  loves  her  family,  but  also  patiently  waits  for  the  day  when  her  kids  have  all  moved  on.  As  a   parent,  it’s  easy  to  relate  to  this  idea,  and  the  way  the  kids  randomly  interrupt  the  interview  is  hilarious,   mainly  because  it’s  such  a  familiar  concept  that  I’ve  experienced.     The  theme  of  critical  minds  offers  a  story  of  a  girl  who  refused  to  introduce  herself  to  Jesus,  saying  that  he   should  already  know  who  she  is.     It’s  not  that  often  that  a  film  manages  to  be  as  moving,  inspiring,  truthful,  and  funny  as  15  Reasons  To   Live.  Documentaries  tend  to  inspire  people  to  take  action,  but  this  one  simply  inspires  people  to  do  what   they’re  already  doing,  living  life.  It’s  easy  to  see  how  each  theme  is  an  important  part  of  life,  and  the   stories  told  may  make  you  realize  that  these  themes  already  play  a  huge  role  in  your  day  to  day  activities.   15  Reasons  To  Live  instantly  becomes  a  must  see  film,  assuring  viewers  that  life  has  plenty  to  offer,  and   allowing  us  to  see  how  different  people  have  embraced  the  various  themes,  making  their  lives,  and  those   around  them,  better.      

Reel Talk,  Take  Seventeen:       Hot  Docs  2013  Highlights   Chantelle  Rodrigo­‐talk/reel-­‐talk-­‐take-­‐seventeen-­‐hot-­‐docs-­‐2013-­‐highlights/     The  second  feel-­‐good  hit  was  Director  Alan  Zweig’s  15  Reasons  to  Live.  The  film  begins  on  a  highway  with   Zweig’s  voiceover  talking  about  his  friend,  a  record  store  employee,  who  compiled  a  list  of  these  reasons   to  live.  Inspired  by  this  list,  Zweig  set  out  to  find  subjects  and  stories  that  best  exemplified  each  reason.   The  reasons  themselves  vary  greatly.  They  go  from  conventional  (Love,  Friendship  and  Home)  to   unconventional  (Duty,  A  Critical  Mind  and  Intoxication).    Zweig  found  his  stories  through  friends,  ads  and   generally  people  he  knew  and  he  originally  had  collected  100  stories.     All  the  stories  in  the  film  are  positive  and  what’s  most  interesting  is  the  way  that  each  story  ties  into  its   title  or  rather,  its  reason.  Duty,  for  example,  has  two  couples  telling  us  a  story  about  when  they  came   across  a  humpback  whale  caught  in  a  net,  dying.  These  two  couples  were  on  a  boat  together  and  one  of   them,  owned  a  whale  watching  company  (which  is  how  they  came  across  the  whale  in  the  first  place).   Risking  their  lives,  they  drew  their  boat  closer  to  the  tangled  whale  and  with  the  small  knives  they  had,   began  working  at  the  net  bit  by  bit  until,  finally,  the  whale  was  free.  With  stories  of  goodwill,  it’s  hard  not   to  feel  slightly  changed  after  having  seen  the  film.  It  was  no  different  for  the  Zweig  either.  “I  believe  that  I   was  to  some  degree  changed,  not  so  much  by  the  stories  we  were  filming  and  ended  up  using  but  just,   from  the  very  beginning,  from  looking  for  stories  and  putting  myself  in  that  realm.  At  the  end  of  the  film  I   say  something  about  choosing  happiness  but,  well,  I  feel  like  I  wouldn’t  have  thought  of  choosing   happiness  until  I  started  the  film.”  So  other  than  successfully  giving  his  audience  that  warm,  fuzzy  feeling,   what  exactly  was  Zweig  trying  to  achieve  with  a  film  so  positive?  “It  was  almost  like  I  was  looking  for  a   different  way  to  make  a  film.  I  guess  I  just  wanted  to  experiment  with  storytelling,  non-­‐fiction  storytelling.   How  could  I  tell  a  bunch  of  unconnected  stories  and  would  the  collected  humanity  of  them  add  up  to   something  or  would  it  make  it  hang  together?”  Well  they  definitely  did  especially  because  once  each   reason  appears  on  screen  you  can’t  help  but  think  to  yourself,  “Yeah,  that  is  a  pretty  good  reason  for   living.”  Another  good  reason?  Both  these  films  are  getting  wider  release  with  the  end  of  Hot  Docs.    

Hot Docs:  15  Reasons  to  Live  [2013,  Alan  Zweig]   Ricky  Lam­‐docs-­‐15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live-­‐2013-­‐alan-­‐zweig/     15  Reasons  To  live  is  the  latest  documentary  from  Toronto  filmmaker  Alan  Zweig.  In  this  film,  we  meet  a  series   of  characters,  all  of  whom  have  found  happiness  –  whether  it  is  was  temporary  or  sustained  and  their  stories   are  relayed  (and  some  might  be  re-­‐enacted)  in  the  documentary.     Based  on  the  work  of  Ray  Robertson,  the  film  takes  us  through  fifteen  stories  from  a  variety  of  people  in  all   swaths  of  life.  They  have  all  found  happiness  at  some  point.  These  stories  are  have  been  categorized  under   broad  terms  such  as  “love”,  “home”  and  “intoxication”  for  example.  Some  stories  are  particularly  strong  (a  wife   allows  her  husband  to  walk  around  the  world  for  ten  years,  strangers  team  up  to  save  a  whale)  and  some  seem   rather  odd  (mother  abandons  her  kids  for  hours  at  a  time  to  go  to  a  mall)  but  maybe  the  point  of  it  is  that   everyone  is  different,  and  everyone  finds  happiness  in  different  things.  I  am  glad  that  some  of  the  stories  Zweig   chose  had  archival  footage,  otherwise  it  would  have  been  a  series  of  talking  heads  followed  by  shots  of  the   subjects  walking  around  in  random  Toronto  neighborhoods.  As  much  as  I  like  pointing  out  what  places  are   during  the  film,  it  might  not  have  provided  for  the  most  interesting  visual  experience  for  non-­‐Toronto  people.   Zweig’s  interviewing  style  for  some  of  these  stories  is  interesting,  as  he  tends  to  talk  about  himself  during  the   subject’s  story  (especially  the  introverted  girl/boating  story).  I  guess  it’s  his  documentary  and  he  can  do   whatever  he  wants.While  all  the  stories  are  just  very  loosely  connected,  the  message  of  the  film  is  clear.   Everyone  in  the  world  can  have  happiness,  it  might  come  in  odd  shape  and  sizes,  but  it’s  up  to  you  to  choose  to   find  it.  A  pretty  good  message.    

Hot Docs  Review:  '15  Reasons  to  Live'­‐docs-­‐review-­‐15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live.html    

I started  writing  a  list  of  fifteen  reasons  to  see  this  beautiful  film  at  Hot  Docs  this  year,  but  a  baker’s   dozen  and  a  bit  doesn’t  seem  sufficient.  I  just  loved  15  Reasons  to  Live.  As  only  the  very  best   documentaries  can  do,  15  Reasons  to  Live  captures  the  seemingly  mundane  shards  of  life  that  rarely   receive  inspection,  yet  it  turns  them  over  in  a  fine  light  and  pieces  them  together  into  a  radiant,   unabashedly  life-­‐affirming  mosaic.       One  of  the  most  obvious  reasons  to  catch  15  Reasons  to  Live  at  the  festival  is  its  local  flavour.  Shot   primarily  in  Toronto  with  a  few  scenes  in  Montréal,  15  Reasons  To  Live  is  like  a  love-­‐letter  to  Canada’s   busiest  city.  It  follows  Torontonians  through  the  vibrantly  eclectic  funk  of  Kensington  Market  to  the   streetcar  soundtrack  of  College  Street,  right  down  to  the  waterfront  to  find  a  kind  of  serenity  I  frankly   didn’t  know  existed  in  the  city.  Catching  a  glimpse  of  familiar  locales  guided  by  neighbours,  Toronto   audiences  should  surely  feel  like  part  of  a  collective.  The  film  conjures  a  sense  of  community  through  its   separate,  but  wholly  communal,  cast  of  characters.     Director  Alan  Zweig,  inspired  by  Ray  Robertson’s  collection  of  essays  Why  Not?  15  Reasons  to  Live,   creates  an  uplifting  collage  of  soul-­‐searching  as  he  devises  a  vignette  to  capture  the  spirit  of  each  of   these  fifteen  reasons.  In  segments  titled  “Work”,  “Love”,  “Duty”,  and  others,  Zweig  interviews  a   collection  of  ordinary  Canadians  to  reveal  what  gives  meaning  to  their  lives.  The  stories  are  deceptively   simple  in  their  ability  to  magnify  the  minute  pleasures  that  make  life  worth  living.       One  story,  “Solitude”,  follows  a  Toronto  woman  named  Tabetha  who  relishes  the  silence  when  she  flees   her  busy  home  of  five  children.  It’s  not  that  she  dislikes  being  a  mother—far  from  it—but  Tabetha  is  an   escapist  and  traveller  at  heart.  She  injects  the  thrill  of  travel  into  her  day  by  slipping  out  to  the  local  mall   and  simply  allowing  herself  to  be  engulfed  by  the  hum  and  hustle-­‐bustle  of  the  crowds  as  she  sits  in  the   mall  and  people  watches.  Home  can  sometimes  feel  like  the  loneliest  place  on  earth,  and  Tabetha’s   story  shows  that  one  sometimes  needs  to  get  lost  in  the  crowd  to  feel  grounded  again.      

Other reasons  to  live  champion  the  need  to  stand  out  from  the  crowd.  A  ten-­‐year-­‐old  girl  named  Julia,   for  example,  transforms  a  hairy  situation  into  an  eye-­‐opening  one  when  she  is  kicked  out  of  school  for   refusing  to  kiss  a  portrait  of  Jesus  Christ  on  the  lips  in  front  of  her  class.  Julia’s  story,  appropriately   entitled  “Critical  Mind”,  celebrates  awareness.  Articulate  and  intelligent  for  a  girl  of  her  age,  Julia  makes   the  incident  a  learning  experience:  she  keeps  her  faith  and  she  finds  personal  growth  by  refusing  to   conform  to  the  masses.  Likewise,  “Humour”,  offers  a  hilarious  anecdote  from  a  man  named  Adam   Nobody  who  was  beaten  by  police  for  protesting  at  the  G20.  All  Adam  did  was  make  a  sign  that  said  “Let   Donna  Graduate.”  Perhaps  the  draconian  summit  was  not  the  best  place  to  make  an  ironic  reference  to   90210,  but  Mr.  Nobody’s  attempt  to  bring  a  laugh  to  a  bad  day  revealed  the  absurdity  of  authority’s   staff.  Look  back  not  with  anger,  these  stories  explain,  but  with  pride  on  standing  out  from  the  crowd.     Some  of  the  other  stories  presented  in  15  Reasons  to  Live  are  anecdotes  that  are  less  about  newsworthy   events  and  more  so  about  a  state  of  mind.  “Home”  offers  the  story  of  an  elderly  woman  named   Emmaline  with  a  youthful  lust  for  life.  Emmaline’s  passion  derives  from  the  solace  of  feeling  at  home  in   her  lighthouse,  where  she  met  her  husband  as  a  young  rebel  and  lived  with  him  until  she  died.   Emmaline  was  forced  to  leave  soon  after  his  death,  but  yearned  to  return  to  the  lighthouse.  She  finally   did.  As  Emmaline  describes  how  she  takes  comfort  in  the  sounds  of  the  waves  on  the  rocky  shoals  or  the   view  of  the  endless  horizon  she  cherished  with  her  husband,  it  sounds  as  if  she  never  really  left  the   lighthouse.  Home  can  be  a  state  of  mind,  and  Emmaline’s  contagiousness  tranquility  is  sure  to  afford  a   sense  of  reassurance  for  viewers  who  reflect  on  the  place  that  holds  their  roots.        

Like  Emmaline’s  story,  the  tales  in  15  Reasons  to  Live  outline  simple  pleasures  that  could  easily  pass  us   by.  The  joy  of  reading,  the  thrill  of  creating,  or  the  satisfaction  of  a  job  well  done  are  all  part  the  answer.   Even  a  memory  of  good  friends  and  good  wine  (which  make  some  of  my  favourite  memories!)  is  enough   for  Zweig’s  inverted  bucket  list  of  things  to  do  to  live.    

The finest  story  is  Zweig’s  own.  The  final  chapter  of  15  Reasons  to  Live,  entitled  “Death”,  is  a  stunning   animated  account  of  Zweig’s  friendship  with  the  late  actress  Tracey  Wright.  “Death”  is  a  fond   remembrance  of  the  parties  that  Wright  and  her  husband  Don  McKellar  would  have  to  celebrate  the   annual  crop  offered  by  the  pear  trees  in  their  backyard.  The  parties  were  like  a  communal  toast  to  life  or   a  festivity  of  renewal.  Zweig’s  expressive  sequence  closes  the  film  with  a  poignantly  bittersweet   endnote  on  living  life  to  the  fullest  because  one  never  knows  when  the  harvest  is  complete     One  could  easily  unpack  the  inspiration  afforded  by  each  of  the  fifteen  vignettes  as  a  reason  to  see  the   film,  but  Zweig’s  feat  of  creating  a  whole  through  the  amalgam  of  stories  is  the  best.  The  sentiments  of   one  story  echo  its  neighbours,  as  each  episode  appears  as  a  stand-­‐alone  piece  framed  within  Zweig’s   musing  on  the  journey  from  crossing  the  bridge  between  death  and  life.  These  ways  of  looking  at  the   world  through  a  sunny  filter  are  like  a  collective  consciousness.     15  Reasons  to  Live  comes  together  as  a  guidebook  for  finding  the  silver  linings  in  life.  One  participant   notes  that  happiness  is  a  choice,  and  the  fifteen  reasons  outlined  in  the  film  are  guides  to  help  one   arrive  at  such  a  decision.  Being  happy,  though,  could  be  among  the  most  difficult  choices  one  ever  has   to  make.  The  choice  to  be  happy  has  a  ripple  effect  in  the  lives  of  others,  as  one  kind  action  encourages   another  in  turn.  (Think  of  when  you  hold  a  door  open  for  someone  and  then  they  open  the  next  door  for   you.)  The  goodwill  of  one  story  infuses  another,  and  15  Reasons  to  Live  amasses  the  stories  in  gradual   accumulation  of  emotion.     The  infectiousness  of  the  film  builds  a  kind  of  euphoria,  which  Zweig  frees  in  the  final  chapter  of  the  film   by  ending  on  a  poignant  line  offered  to  him  by  Wright  about  the  will  to  live.  The  cathartic  release   afforded  by  the  stories  makes  the  choice  for  happiness  rather  clear.  15  Reasons  to  Live  therefore   provides  its  audience  with  one  of  the  few  chances  they  will  have  at  Hot  Docs  of  taking  the  lessons   provided  by  a  film  and  realizing  them  to  better  this  world.  One  leaves  15  Reasons  to  Live  feeling  an   affirmation  of  life,  which  is  reason  alone  to  see  this  great,  buoyant  film.  


15 Reasons  To  Live  (2013)     Greg  Klymkiv­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live-­‐review-­‐by-­‐greg.html     Everyone  says  that  Alan  Zweig's  new  picture  is  a  major  departure  from  everything  he's  made  to  date.  They're  wrong.   Since  his  first  feature  length  documentary  Vinyl,  the  first  of  his  semi-­‐unofficial  "mirror  trilogy"  which  then  included  I,   Curmudgeon  and  Lovable,  through  to  his  fourth  movie  A  Hard  Name,  Zweig  has  always  been  about  humanity  and  all   his  work  has  been  infused  with  compassion.     15  Reasons  To  Live  is  more  of  the  same.     Now,  before  anyone  assumes  that's  a  slag,  allow  me  to  add  that  humanity  and  compassion  are  elements  of  existence   always  worth  exploring  -­‐  in  both  life  and  art.  (After  all,  what  else  is  there?  Really?)     Oh,  I  know,  all  those  championing  this  as  a  departure  are  bringing  up  the  fact  that  15  Reasons  is  not  overflowing  with   self-­‐loathing.  He's  not  looking  at  himself  in  a  mirror  and  confessing  his  perceived  failings  and  then  using  his  subjects   to  bolster  and/or  change  his  mind.  He's  not  aiming  his  camera  at  ex-­‐cons,  overtly  exploring  their  harrowing  dark  side   in  order  to  find  glimmers  of  both  hope  and  forgiveness.  Oh,  and  for  those  who  saw  it  (and  everyone  who  should  have   seen  it),  he's  not  even  in  the  territory  of  his  first  feature,  Darling  Family,  a  tremendously  moving  and  well  directed   adaptation  of  the  play  by  Linda  Griffiths  which  was,  uh,  about  a  couple  on  opposite  ends  of  a  decision  to  abort  a  child.     Or,  they  say,  Oh,  he's  not  a  curmudgeon  after  all.     Well,  whatever.     I  can  only  reiterate:  Alan  Zweig's  films  are  about  humanity  and  compassion  -­‐  period.  He's  a  great  interviewer  -­‐   probing,  insightful,  funny,  thoughtful  and  entertainingly  conversational  -­‐  and  this,  if  anything,  characterizes  a  good   chunk  of  his  style.  This  wends  its  way  through  all  his  documentaries  and  it's  one  of  many  reasons  why  it's  impossible   not  to  be  riveted  by  them.     He's  got  an  original  voice  as  a  filmmaker  and,  quite  literally  within  his  vocal  chords.  Nobody,  but  nobody  can  sound   like  Alan  Zweig  and  ABSOLUTELY  nobody  can  make  movies  the  way  he  does.     Perhaps  the  most  telling  aspect  of  Zweig's  original  approach  is  that  he  is,  first  and  foremost,  an  avid  collector.  His   films  are  populated  with  large  casts  of  characters  and  these  individuals  are  inextricably  linked  to  the  themes  of  the   films,  but  as  such,  he  pulls  from  them  the  things  that  make  each  one  of  them  unique  and  what  he  seems  to  do  is   collect  all  these  people  with  the  same  passion  he  collects  vinyl  or  books  or  movies  or  tchochkes,  BUT  unlike  the   inanimate  objects  he  collects,  he  can't  purge  himself  of  his  collection  of  subjects  by  dropping  them  off  at  the  Goodwill   Store.     He  collects  people  of  all  stripes  and  he  gets,  through  his  films,  to  keep  them  forever  -­‐  not  just  for  himself,  but  for  the   world.    

And THIS,  for  me,  is  what's  so  special  and  if  there's  any  difference  with  the  new  picture  from  his  previous  work,  it's   that  he  forced  himself  into  maintaining  a  strict  number  of  subjects  to  add  to  his  collection.  And  yes,  there  is  one  key   surface  departure  -­‐  he  tells  each  person's  story  separately  without  the  documentarian's  crutch  of  weaving  in  and  out   of  his  subjects'  lives,  stories  and  perspectives.     Inspired  by  his  friend  Ray  Robertson's  book  “Why  Not:  Fifteen  Reasons  To  Live?”  Zweig  chose  the  15  chapter  headings   -­‐  Love,  Solitude,  Critical  Mind,  Art,  Individuality,  Home,  Work,  Humour,  Friendship,  Intoxication,  Praise,  Meaning,   Body,  Duty  and  Death  -­‐  and  with  his  inimitable  producer  Julia  Rosenberg  (one  of  Canada's  true  producers-­‐as-­‐ filmmaker  that  I  can  count  on  two  hands  and  half  a  foot)  and  his  Associate  Producer  Whitney  Mallett,  the  team   searched  out  15  stories  that  best  exemplified  each  reason  to  live.     With  the  astounding  cinematography  of  Naomi  Wise  (she  paints  every  face  with  light  and  her  compositions  are   exceptional)  and  dollops  of  exquisite  animation  by  Joseph  Sherman,  the  team  shot  each  story  separately  and  then   with  the  breathtaking  work  of  editor  Eamonn  O’Connor,  each  story  was  cut  separately  until  embarking  upon  what   must  have  been  an  even  more  formidable  challenge,  working  with  the  assembled  stories  and,  well,  assembling  them.   O'Connor's  cutting  is  especially  revelatory.  Each  tale  is  perfectly  paced,  to  be  sure,  but  the  transitions  from  tale  to  tale   are  quite  simply,  masterful  -­‐  at  times  subtle  and  gentle,  while  at  others  delivering  my  favourite  kind  of  cut  -­‐  the  cut   that  takes  your  breath  away.  Literally.  (These  cuts,  when  they  work,  are  not  jarring  -­‐  they  kind  of  slide  in  and  sidle  up   to  you  and  before  you  know  it,  you've  been  winded.)    

And damn  if  this  structural  approach  doesn't  work  just  perfectly.  The  film  shares  an  architecture  similar  to  that  of   "Dubliners"  by  James  Joyce  and  "Winesburg,  Ohio"  by  Sherwood  Anderson  -­‐  each  book  having  several  great  stories   that  work  just  fine  on  their  own,  but  when  taken  all  together,  they  generate  an  effect  not  unlike  some  dazzling   combination  of  a  full  novel  meshed  with  a  mesmerizing  tone  poem.  This,  if  anything,  is  what  launches  Zweig  into   some  kind  of  stratosphere  -­‐  a  film  that  brings  together  everything  that  makes  his  work  so  goddamn  special;  all  the   compassion  and  humanity  your  heart  could  possibly  desire  in  a  perfectly  cohesive  package  celebrating  life  itself.       I  think  it's  safe  to  say  that  15  Reasons  To  Live  is  a  film  that  will  have  the  kind  of  shelf  life  that  only  a  genuine   masterpiece  delivers  -­‐  a  film  for  now,  to  be  sure,  but  more  importantly,  one  for  the  ages.     I  don't  think  there  is  a  single  story  that  will  not  resonate  beyond  the  here  and  now.  

Witness:   A  tale  of  love  against  a  dream  to  walk  around  the  world;     A  search  for  solitude  amongst  the  masses;     The  application  of  critical  thought  in  the  face  of  religious  dogma;     The  appreciation  of  art  when  everyone  says  it'll  never  be  appreciated  again;     A  slice  of  individuality  from  a  mysterious  source;     A  sense  of  place  when  one  finds  a  home  that  means  forever;     When  work  becomes  that  which  fulfills  you  and  feeds  your  soul;     A  sense  of  humour  that  manifests  itself  in  a  simple,  but  ultimately  layered  choice  of  a  name  that  infuses  your  identity   with  one  that  reflects  all  your  gifts;     Friendship  that's  thicker  than  blood  when  a  debilitating  disease  threatens  your  quality  of  life;     A  realization  that  an  intoxicant  can  inspire  you  to  never  say  never  again;     To  seek  the  ultimate  outlet  to  praise  and  worship  that  which  fills  your  life  more  than  some  spurious  non-­‐entity;     Seeking,  finding  and  maintaining  the  meaning  your  life  gives  to  yourself  and  God's  creatures;     To  honour  thine  body  to  honour  thine  soul  to  honour  the  gift  of  expression  through  exertion  and  concentration;     To  save  a  whale;     And  finally,  the  discovery  that  peaches  ARE  life  itself  -­‐  sweet  and  ever  regenerating.      

These are  the  individual  stories  that  equal  a  much  bigger  and  profound  story  -­‐  one  in  which  mankind  seeks  all  those   things  that  give  meaning  to  one's  life  and  how,  through  faith  and  perseverance  in  one's  own  humanity  and  place   within  the  universe,  anything  -­‐  ANYTHING  -­‐  is  possible.     And  Zweig  does  all  this  and  more.  He  gets  to  have  his  cake  and  eat  it  too.  We  get  to  have  our  cake  -­‐  his  film  -­‐  and  eat   it  too.  Where  in  previous  films,  Zweig  held  a  mirror  to  his  face  so  that  it  might  reflect  not  merely  himself,  but  us,  he   takes  a  step  further  -­‐  he  takes  grand  stories  that  celebrate  life  and  makes  them  all  the  mirror  for  us  to  gaze  into  and   realize  that  what's  precious  is  right  in  front  of  us  and  we've  got  to  seize  it  and  never  let  go.     The  final  tale  Zweig  imparts  in  15  Reasons  To  Live  is,  without  question,  a  cinematic  equivalent  to  the  final  story  in   Joyce's  "Dubliners".  After  first  seeing  Zweig's  truly  great  film,  I  thought  deeply  on  my  own  life  and  where  I  had  been,   was  being  and  where  I  needed  to  go.  Like  the  Joyce's  final  words  in  the  final  story  of  his  masterpiece,  Zweig's  picture,   and  in  particular  his  animated  tale  of  death  made  me  think  about  those  words  -­‐  words  which  give  my  life  solace  and   meaning  when  the  dark  is  darkest:     A  few  light  taps  upon  the  pane  made  him  turn  to  the  window.  It  had  begun  to  snow  again.  He  watched  sleepily  the   flakes,  silver  and  dark,  falling  obliquely  against  the  lamplight.  The  time  had  come  for  him  to  set  out  on  his  journey   westward.  Yes,  the  newspapers  were  right:  snow  was  general  all  over  Ireland.  It  was  falling  on  every  part  of  the  dark   central  plain,  on  the  treeless  hills,  falling  softly  upon  the  Bog  of  Allen  and,  farther  westward,  softly  falling  into  the  dark   mutinous  Shannon  waves.  It  was  falling,  too,  upon  every  part  of  the  lonely  churchyard  on  the  hill  where  Michael  Furey   lay  buried.  It  lay  thickly  drifted  on  the  crooked  crosses  and  headstones,  on  the  spears  of  the  little  gate,  on  the  barren   thorns.  His  soul  swooned  slowly  as  he  heard  the  snow  falling  faintly  through  the  universe  and  faintly  falling,  like  the   descent  of  their  last  end,  upon  all  the  living  and  the  dead.     To  paraphrase  Joyce,  I  can't  shake  the  fact  that  Alan  Zweig  has,  with  this  future  masterpiece  of  cinema,  created  a   work  that  will  make  all  of  our  souls,  both  the  living  and  the  dead,  look  to  that  which  faintly  falls  through  the  universe   and  makes  us  all  swoon  ever  so  slowly.     "15  Reasons  To  Live"  has  its  world  premiere  at  Hot  Docs  2013.  For  tickets  and  showtimes,  visit  the  Hot  Docs  website   HERE.     FULL  DISCLOSURE:  I  have  know  Alan  Zweig  since  1987.  I  produced  his  first  feature  documentary.  My  daughter  is  a   reason  to  live  (in  my  life  as  well  as  in  his  film).  I  love  movies.  When  I  see  movies  I  cherish,  I  need  to  write  about  them.   End  of  story.        

15 Reasons  To  Live:  HotDocs13  Review   Donal  O’Connor­‐review/15-­‐reasons-­‐to-­‐live-­‐hotdocs13-­‐review/         Taking  its  cue  from  Why  not?  15  reasons  to  live,  Alan  Zwieg’s  movie  follows  the  lives  and  loves  of   numerous  people,  across  the  age  bracket.  Moving  from  a  shared  love  of  music  to  schoolyard  bullying  to   dealing  with  debilitating  illness  and  death,  we  are  kept  constantly  invested  in  the  trials  and  tribulations  on   display,  occasionally  broken  up  with  brief  animated  segments.     The  film  moves  at  a  brisk  pace,  dealing  with  topics  such  as  depression,  immigration,  loss  of  loved  ones,   hope  and  despair.  At  no  point  are  we  bored,  but  we  rarely  ask  to  see  more  of  the  stories  told.  It  is   masterfully  put  together,  easily  connecting  the  disparate  themes  and  ideals  each  interview  subject  brings   to  the  table.  For  each  heart  breaking  story,  like  the  director’s  own  story  of  a  friend’s  cancer  or  a  woman   who  gave  up  her  dream  for  her  family,  there  is  a  positive  upside,  where  whales  are  saved,  young  love   blossoms  and  a  man  relearns  how  to  read  after  a  stroke.  People  are  given  terrible  trials  to  endure  and   come  out  the  other  end  stronger  for  it.  Many  use  their  difficulties  to  support  others,  and  do  not  even   realise  the  good  they  have  done  until  later.    


Hot Docs  2013:  Reviews  #1­‐docs-­‐2013-­‐reviews-­‐1.html       I  only  been  told  the  basic  gist  of  this  —  a  documentary  made  up  of  stories  for  each  of  the  items  on  a  list  of   reasons  to  live  —  I  would  have  avoided  it,  given  how  that  sounds  like  the  essence  of  feelgood  Oprah-­‐ esque  pap.  The  fact  that  the  list  was  written  by  Ray  Robertson  and  the  film  made  by  Alan  Zweig  is  what   got  me  through  the  door.  The  list  (subsequently  turned  into  a  book)  was  made  by  noteworthy  local  author   Robertson  after  a  debilitating  battle  with  depression.  For  this  film,  Zweig  takes  it  in  his  own  direction,   using  it  as  a  framework  to  stitch  together  fifteen  stories.     In  his  emergence  as  a  documentarian  (in  the  "mirror  trilogy"  of  Vinyl,  I,  Curmudgeon  and  Lovable),  Zweig   developed  a  self-­‐reflective  method  that  would  quite  literally  turn  the  camera  on  himself.  Zweig  broke  out   of  that  pattern  with  2009's  somewhat-­‐tentative  A  Hard  Name,  which  did  reveal  that  his  sharp  self-­‐ questioning  skills  could  be  turned  outward.  That  comes  into  play  again  in  this  film,  where,  in  several  spots,   Zweig  asks  the  exact  question  that  you  wanted  to  hear  being  asked.  There's  a  much  broader  canvas  than   in  any  of  his  previous  films,  and  this  series  of  short  inquiries  gives  an  opportunity  to  mix  together  some   different  styles,  but  at  bottom,  it's  the  strength  of  the  stories  that  give  the  film  its  power.     Ranging  from  a  free-­‐thinking  catholic  school  student  ("Individuality")  to  a  music  blogger  ("Praise")  to   whale  watchers  who  become  involuntary  rescuers  ("Duty"),  the  stories  that  go  with  each  reason   sometimes  seem  tangential  at  first  ("Love",  for  example,  tells  us  about  a  man  who  decided  to  drop  out  of   his  life  to  walk  around  the  word  —  and  the  accepting  forbearance  afforded  him  by  his  wife)  yet  each   illustrates  how  that  core  attribute  has  been  a  reason  to  live  for  the  storyteller.  Some  of  the  stories  here   (such  as  G20  activist  Adam  Nobody  and  rock-­‐balancing  sculptor  Peter  Riedel)  will  be  passingly  familiar,   and  there  are  plenty  of  local  landmarks  to  be  seen,  all  of  which  helps  situate  these  stories  close  to  us.     Maybe  it's  because  the  list  includes  Reasons  like  Humour,  Solitude,  and  Intoxication,  or  maybe  it's  just   Zweig's  aversion  to  easy  mushiness,  but  the  film  is  never  cheesy  yet  remains  emotionally  poignant.  (I   won't  lie  —  no  less  than  four  of  these  made  me  a  little  misty.)  The  segments  are  sometimes  a  little  quick   (several  would  be  worthy  of  full  documentaries  on  their  own  merits)  but  if  you're  someone  who  needs  a   reminder  of  the  reasons  to  keep  going  —  and  we  all  have  our  days  where  we  need  one  —  this  film  will  do   you  good.    

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