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#HotDocs21 Review: Into Light

May 1, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2021 Hot Docs Festival is running virtually from April 29th to May 9th, all films are available to stream for audiences across Canada

Director Sheona McDonald’s short documentary Into Light explores the experience of a single mother in Yellowknife, as she helps her young transgender daughter through her transitioning process. The mother reflects on how, before coming out as trans, her child was very shy and had trouble choosing clothes, until finding a shiny dress that she started happily wearing to school. From here, the mother started to realize that the child she gave birth to was actually a girl, and slowly started helping her through the social transitioning process in their small community.

One of the film’s defining features is its very artistic cinematography by Simon Schneider, with the faces of the subjects never appearing in full view. The camera instead captures them from behind, from the side, and at a distance. When they are facing the camera, it is framed from the chin down. This not only protects the privacy of both mother and daughter, but also gives a sort of universality to the film.

McDonald’s film is quite moving in just nineteen minutes. It’s inspiring to hear how this mother unconditionally supported her child, while also going through her own internal experience of coming to terms with having a daughter instead of a son. The result is both a touching look at acceptance, as well as a touching look at the single parent experience.

Into Light is available to watch from April 29th until May 9th. It’s screening with the film Dropstones. Digital tickets and more information can be found right here.

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