With The Song And The Sorrow kicking off the Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival that tackles issues of mental health from October 10th through the 21st and it is a poignant and beautiful look at not only the tragic nature that can come with artists like Gene MacLellan and the struggle from family to make sure they talk and don’t repeat their predecessors mistakes.
Canadian songwriter, Gene MacLellan is best known for his hits from the 1970s, including “Snowbird,” and “The Call.” gained national attention as one of the most brilliant songwriters in the Canadian music industry but he was never comfortable with being in the spotlight and after struggling with his depression for years, MacLellan took his own life in 1995. His daughter and musician Catherine MacLellan was only 14 when her father committed suicide. Years after his death, Catherine revisits her father’s past trying to understand his life-long battle with depression.
You can feel the actual human stakes The Song And The Sorrow we get a self portrait of a woman who wants to celebrate her father but is also determined to not fall down the same rabbit hole that her father did.
It’s a great history lesson on the life and times of Gene MacLellan and his place in music history (I’ll be honest I didn’t have a clue) while director Millefiore Clarkes allows for her subjects honest concerns not only about her life but about her father’s to come through.
The Song And The Sorrow serves as a great reminder of why the NFB actually exists (they produced the film) as it delivers the message that there’s really no perfect solution when it comes to dealing with issues of mental health…but you can’t get anywhere on it without making that difficult step to start the conversation.