Last night, my partner and I watched a 75 minute long documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada. (You can watch the whole film for free online by clicking here or the film is at the end of this review.) The film had its own gradual pace, featured lots of subjective blurred images and had a loose three-part structure but most importantly the film centred around a gay man who was stabbed in 2013 in rural Canada. The attack left him paralyzed from the waist down. It’s not a story you often hear about in Canada. The film, directed and filmed by Laura Marie Wayne, a friend of Scott, is at times heart wrenching.
Through the film, we meet Scott’s sister who helps him on a regular basis. They play musical instruments and sing together. We meet his mother who wishes she had better prepared her son to face dangers. For instance, she never thought of telling her son when he was younger to be as careful as she did with her daughters. It didn’t occur to her that her gay son would ever be the victim of a hate crime. We quickly understand that Scott is well supported by his family and his community. And we meet Scott of course. He is a charming young, blue-eyed gay man with a ginger beard who occasionally wears a fedora. He is a sensitive, well-spoken musician. In one beautiful filmed sequence, he conducts a choir at a church in front of a touched audience. They sing a fitting rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Side Now.”
You would expect anger and despair after the trauma of being attacked and being left paralysed. Scott never displays anger in the film. He does show despair and sadness. I couldn’t help but be moved to tears a few times but particularly when his sister and her boyfriend carry Scott to a waterfall inside a forest. As Scott sits on a bench to watch the scenery he hugs his sister and doesn’t let go. They both cry in silence. It’s his new reality and for someone who was able to walk before, it’s the constant reminder of what you can’t do anymore. It’s gut-wrenching and just like Scott you wish you could turn back the clock to avoid this attack and all its devastating consequences.
In the film, Scott reads a letter he wants to send to his aggressor. In it, he reveals he is willing to meet his aggressor in the hope of helping them both heal. His aggressor was sentenced to 10 years in jail. A traumatic event in itself which will have life consequences just like the stabbing did to Scott. The film was released in 2018, five years after the attack. We are now in 2020 and I don’t know if Scott ever sent that letter or met his aggressor.
Scott started the Don’t Be Afraid campaign after he was attacked. He rolled in his wheel chair at Pride events to promote this campaign against homophobia. I am not sure where his campaign is at now but this documentary about his life and the attack is a moving portrait of a man which avoids the pitfalls of self-pity. The film wasn’t about the physical aspect of Scott’s new life or about how he deals with it on a day-to-day basis. That could be a whole documentary in itself: how a gay man in a wheelchair meets other gay men and how the physical disability affects his life. This film, Love Scott, centres around the emotional impact of the attack which is surely more introspective.
4 out 5 stars.
Seen Friday June 19, 2020 on YouTube