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Canada, 2019

Production : Shannon Walsh

Japanese, Wenzhounese, Spanish, English


Honorable Mention Best Canadian Documentary 2019 - Calgary International Film Festival



Who stands up when everything falls apart? A riveting meditation on resilience in the face of disaster, ‘‘Illusions of Control’’ unfolds in landscapes irrevocably shaped by human attempts to dominate them. Five women confront unbearable crises: Lauren Berlant reflects on life and death at the crossroads of a cancer diagnosis in Chicago, Silvia searches for her missing daughter in the deserts of northern Mexico; Yang attempts to hold back the expanding desert in China; Kaori mobilizes mothers as citizen-scientist to monitor radiation in Fukushima, Japan; and Stacey builds on Indigenous knowledge to confront toxic legacies in Yellowknife. Each story reveals surprising ways to live and reimagine life in the ruins.

A word from Tënk

In Illusions of Control, Shannon Walsh creates a dialogue between the resilience and reflections of five women, each confronted with an individual or collective disaster. With intimate and respectful camerawork, this documentary opens our eyes to a wide range of natural issues. While this diversity may be somewhat destabilizing, the film offers a coherent and moving overview of what motivates some to continue to live on and present a dignified resistance to atrocities that may appear inevitable. The score by Owen Pallet adds a strange touch of softness to this point, and the editing punctuates these frankly and transparently presented tragedies with some sorely needed doses of optimism and solidarity.


A deeply human documentary, Illusions of Control prompts a certain introspection, and could certainly foster the development of the empathy we need to break these cycles of suffering that have consigned many to living through veritable environmental or social nightmares.



Hubert Sabino-Brunette
Teacher and programmer



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