Hot Docs 2022: Our Review of ‘Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children’

Hot Docs 2022: Our Review of ‘Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children’

Writer and Director Barri Cohen’s Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children is a harrowing documentary. Cohen delves into uncovering the truth about what happened to her two half-brothers Alfred and Louis, who were institutionalized in the 1950’s at the now-closed Huronia Regional Centre, a hospital and home for children with developmental disabilities in Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Following a successful class-action lawsuit in 2013, representing Huronia Regional Centre survivors, Cohen is able to dive deeper into piecing together the long-standing family mystery about her two half-brothers. This leads Cohen to hear from various survivors and their family members about the horrors that took place within the walls of the Huronia Regional Centre including accounts of neglect, sexual and physical abuse. Cohen’s documentary gives the survivors a platform to share their stories of the atrocity’s they experienced at the institution and their hope for the present and future. 

Cohen directs Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children with incredible precision, care and heart. All of the interviews are very engaging and offer a multitude of perspectives and emotional depth to the documentary. The stories offer a glimpse into the trauma endured by both survivors and victims. The archival footage is effectively edited and seamlessly interspersed and provides important historical context. Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children is fairly engrossing throughout its’ approximately 90 minute runtime. It does feel slightly overlong. The pacing slows towards the last half of the film and could have used a more concise overall edit. Regardless, the documentary film is still powerful, and eye-opening. With Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children, Cohen delivers a memorable documentary that brings to light voices that deserve to be heard. 

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Originally from Thunder Bay, Shayne is a Toronto based Artist/Singer-Songwriter. Whether it be an epic film, an action-packed television show, or a soulful music album, he simply loves art and entertainment. Shayne is a member of the Songwriters Association of Canada, Canadian Federation of Musicians, ACTRA (AABP Member), and a Humber College Music Degree graduate. You can check out Shayne’s music on various music streaming platforms. www.shaynestolz.com
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