Toronto – Monday September 20th 2022 – At the Toronto International Film Festival’s Industry Conference, the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) announced the launch of “Documentality”: an initiative that seeks to normalize conversations about mental health and well-being in our industry. The Canadian initiative comes on the heels of a series of therapist-led focus groups in the US and the UK and is made possible with the support of the Canada Media Fund. Documentality was started by US-based Malikkah Rollins (DOC NYC, D-Word), UK-based Rebecca Day (Film in Mind) and three D-Word co-hosts: Erica Ginsberg, Doug Block and Marj Safinia. 

DOC is inviting documentary creators to participate in a series of focus groups, the anonymous results of which will be incorporated into a report that will guide DOC’s work to normalize conversations around mental health in the Canadian documentary sector. Documentality will provide tools for how documentary filmmakers can become more resilient resources for themselves, their teams and the people who entrust them with their stories, and DOC will use the first-hand testimonies of Canadian documentary creators to advocate for sectoral change toward greater understanding of and support for mental health and well-being. 

DOC’s Executive Director Sarah Spring launched the initiative as part of a panel during TIFF, appearing alongside Malikkah Rollins, filmmaker Rebecca Huntt (“Beba”) and moderator Inney Prakash from the Maysles Documentary Center. 

“Documentary filmmakers often spend years deeply invested in difficult subject matter that marks them profoundly. What we have seen from the US and UK focus groups is that documentary filmmakers can suffer from secondary trauma, high levels of anxiety and poor mental health often due to external forces within the larger documentary industry. This is compounded when filmmakers are subject to systemic racism or other forms of marginalization that demean their work and their experiences. We’re learning that filmmakers feel ill equipped to support their crews and film participants through the choppy waters of difficult, emotionally intense topics that are the subjects of many documentaries,” says Sarah Spring. 

DOC invites filmmakers to submit expressions of interest to participate in the focus groups: