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#HotDocs23 Review: I Lost My Mom

May 6, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2023 Hot Docs Film Festival runs from April 27th to May 7th in Toronto, more information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

In his documentary I Lost My Mom, Quebec filmmaker Denys Desjardins captures the end of his mother Madeleine’s life, offering a devastating portrait of the dire situation in Canada’s overcrowded long-term care homes, including at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the course of several years, Denys follows the process of having to put his mother in a senior’s residence, when she starts to develop signs of Alzheimer’s. When her condition worsens, they have to work with the CLSC to try and find a more appropriate home for her, but end up stuck in a bureaucratic hell trying to navigate a badly overburdened system. We feel their frustration as Denys and his sister Maryse make endless phone calls to social workers, with the camera acting as silent observer.

Mixed with photo montages and personal reflections on his mother’s life, Desjardins takes a purely vérité approach to much of the film, simply capturing these hard conversations and moments as they unfold in a video diary style. This allows I Lost My Mom to play as a sort of social realist drama. When the pandemic hits in early March 2020, Madeleine’s situation becomes even more urgent, with the film serving as a heartbreaking document of the government’s abject moral failure in keeping people from visiting loved ones at the end of their lives.

Screenings: No more festival screenings.

Winner – Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award

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