Attiya and Steve at the coffee shop.
“A highly compassionate look at intimate-partner violence that makes clear abusers need help, not just societal censure… a beautiful film that dives into deep waters…” –The Globe and Mail
May 17, 2017 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
After selling out multiple screenings and igniting crucial discussion about gender-based violence and restorative justice at this year’s Hot Docs festival, Attiya Khan and Lawrence Jackman’s feature documentary A Better Man (Intervention Productions/National Film Board of Canada) returns with a theatrical engagement at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, June 9–21. Khan and Jackman will attend three Q&As during the film’s opening weekend, on Friday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, June 10, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 11, at 8:45 p.m. (See complete schedule below or visit the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema website.)
Twenty-two years ago, Attiya was 18 years old and running for her life―fleeing an ex-boyfriend, Steve, who’d been abusing her on a daily basis. Now, all these years later, Attiya has asked Steve to meet with her in a coffee shop. Attiya has long moved on with her life, but she continues to bear the emotional scars of their time together. She wants to know how Steve remembers their relationship and how he justifies what he did to her. She wants to know what scars, if any, he bears as well. Most importantly, she wants to know if Steve is willing to take responsibility for his actions.
This emotionally raw first meeting, filmed by Attiya with Steve’s consent, is the starting point for a courageous journey into a painful shared history. A Better Man follows a series of intimate conversations that take place between the former couple and therapist Tod Augusta-Scott, who specializes in working with men who have used violence. As Steve and Attiya revisit their old apartments, school and hang-out spots, two very different sets of memories emerge. With surprising courage and empathy, Steve and Attiya lay bare their vulnerability to help each other come to terms with the violence that took place so many years ago. Attiya’s narrative and healing process may be central to the film, but this is Steve’s story as much as it is hers. For the first time ever, he speaks of the abuse and cracks opens the door to dealing with the past.
Illuminating a new paradigm for domestic-violence prevention, A Better Man offers a fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone involved when men take responsibility for their abuse. It also empowers audience members to play new roles in challenging domestic violence, whether it’s in their own relationships or as part of a broader movement for social change. Called “a film so powerful, it could prevent future victims” by Maclean’s, A Better Man will also be available for community screenings as well as educational (with a teacher-developed learning guide) and professional use. For more information and resources, go to www.abettermanfilm.com.
A Better Man was crafted by an almost entirely female team, including cinematographer Iris Ng (Stories We Tell, Making a Murderer) and composer Lesley Barber (Manchester by the Sea, The Apology). It was produced by Christine Kleckner for Intervention Productions and Justine Pimlott for the NFB’s Ontario Studio, based in Toronto. The executive producers are Sarah Polley, Kathy Avrich-Johnson and Janice Dawe. The NFB executive producer for A Better Man is Anita Lee. Jane Jankovic is the executive producer for TVO.
The film had its world premiere April 30 at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
· Friday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. (with filmmaker Q&A)
· Saturday, June 10 at 1:30 p.m.
· Saturday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. (with filmmaker Q&A)
· Sunday, June 11 at 8:45 p.m. (with filmmaker Q&A)
· Monday, June 12 at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
· Tuesday, June 13 at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
· Wednesday, June 14 at 3:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
· Thursday, June 15 at 2 p.m. and 9 p.m.
· Monday, June 19 at 9:15 p.m.
· Tuesday, June 20 at 4:15 p.m.
· Wednesday, June 21 at 9:30 p.m.
About the filmmakers
Attiya Khan (co-writer, co-director) is a Toronto-based feminist, intimate partner violence survivor, and long-time advocate and counselor for abused women and children. She conceived the idea for A Better Man in 2012, drawing on her personal and professional experience with intimate partner violence. Together with her family, she recently co-founded a YWCA Toronto scholarship program for domestic violence survivors.
Lawrence Jackman (co-writer, co-director, editor) is a Toronto-based filmmaker/editor. Over the past 15 years, he has worked on many award-winning films, focusing primarily on independent documentaries and dramas. In 2011, his NFB short doc How Does It Feel, about the importance of creative fulfillment for Kazumi, a singer with cerebral palsy, received the 2012 Golden Sheaf Award for Best Documentary Biography.
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailer, credits, synopsis: A Better Man
A Better Man website
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
Online Screening Room: NFB.ca
A Better Man