A coproduction of National Film Board of Canada and Intuitive Pictures inc.
In Stolen Time, a riveting feature documentary, charismatic elder rights lawyer Melissa Miller takes on the for-profit nursing-home industry. It’s Miller’s most challenging case yet in her early career: a mass tort representing hundreds of families fighting some of the world’s most powerful long-term care corporations. Her adversaries stand accused of neglecting their vulnerable charges as they reap huge profits. Booming elderly populations worldwide add urgency to holding these corporations to account.
Stolen Time is a compelling call for justice from desperate families who’ve turned to the courts as a last resort. We witness surprising testimonies and images from researchers, advocates and, most notably, frontline caregivers whose work is often undervalued but disproportionately blamed for what goes wrong. The film is a rare inside look at a legal battle and an emerging elder justice movement with ramifications—and inspiration—for us all.
Stolen Time is writer-director Helene Klodawsky’s riveting feature documentary about charismatic elder rights lawyer Melissa Miller and her mission to take on the opaque for-profit nursing-home industry. It’s Miller’s most challenging case yet: a mass tort (class action) against some of the world’s most powerful long-term care corporations. They stand accused of neglecting their vulnerable charges while reaping huge profits. Booming elderly populations worldwide add urgency to holding these corporations to account.
Most of us wish to grow old at home, continuing to live independently. But when illness or lack of support make it a necessity, either for ourselves or our loved ones, we hope to receive compassionate and trustworthy care. The realities of large corporate-owned care facilities paint a very different picture.
Stolen Time is a compelling call for justice. As well as sharing stories of desperate families who’ve turned to the courts as a last resort, Klodawsky exposes surprising testimonies and images from care workers, researchers and change-makers. We follow Miller and her team as they courageously challenge an industry noted for lack of transparency and accountability. Tensions multiply as the court challenge evolves, especially when it comes to frontline caregivers whose work is often undervalued but disproportionately blamed for what goes wrong. Miller, her clients and other advocates are a rare source of hope in the often heartless corporate care business. With cinematic verve, Stolen Time provides an inside look at a legal battle and an emerging elder justice movement.
The latest collaboration between Klodawsky and producer Ina Fichman (see also 2009’s Malls R Us and 2002’s Undying Love), Stolen Time is a disturbing but ultimately inspiring film about a game-changing legal battle with ramifications for us all, both today and into the future.
In Stolen Time, a riveting feature documentary, charismatic elder rights lawyer Melissa Miller and hundreds of aggrieved families take on the corporate for-profit nursing-home industry—an industry notorious for its lack of transparency and accountability.
A compelling call for justice, Stolen Time follows charismatic elder rights lawyer Melissa Miller as she takes on the corporate for-profit nursing-home industry—an industry notorious for its lack of transparency and accountability. As the legal battle unfolds, families, frontline caregivers and change-makers chronicle an urgent crisis with ramifications—and inspiration—for us all.
Stolen Time marks the latest chapter in my love affair with documentary filmmaking. For almost 40 years, I’ve been drawn to stories of changemakers from the margins. Characters in my films have shared dramatic struggles as activists, artists, parents, lovers, migrants and survivors of war. In doing so, they have moved and informed audiences around the world.
Stolen Time brings an aesthetic and engaged approach to the theme of “care work,” a subject often entwined with the destinies of those historically on the sidelines: women, people of colour and the poor. It is no surprise that this vital work is largely undervalued and unseen. Moreover, a similar absenteeism exists in care’s relationship to “art.” Only fairly recently have writers, visual artists and filmmakers found inspiration in the emotional and physical entanglements of care.
About four years ago, thanks to a YouTube clip, I discovered the dynamic and fiery elder rights lawyer Melissa Miller. The moment I saw her speaking out for families whose loved ones had suffered in nursing homes, I knew I wanted to connect. I sensed how Melissa’s legal and activist quest—rife with conflict and suspense—could reframe care as a compelling subject for storytelling. Here was a fight pitting hundreds of desperate families against unsympathetic corporate power and government inaction.
When I “cold called” Melissa to pitch the idea of a feature doc on fighting nursing home negligence (to be produced by Ina Fichman), I argued that she and I needed each other to explore the notion that “no one is disposable.” Eventually, both Melissa and her colleagues at Howie, Sacks & Henry, a boutique personal injury law firm, came on board as fearless subjects and collaborators. Working in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada made a feature doc on nursing home negligence all the more possible.
Melissa’s intoxicating life force and depth of commitment have never wavered. Empowering people to demand more from governments in protecting and caring for our most vulnerable populations is central to her vision.
A handful of dedicated writers and researchers has been charting the privatization of care since the nursing home industry took off in the 1990s. They explore the ways in which governments of all stripes look to the market to answer ballooning demands for care. Today, nursing home chains around the world have become sites for wealth extraction by investors and shareholders. At its core, such financialization of care ties frail elders to overworked, racialized and predominantly female staff. When public pension fund managers, private equity and real estate companies help set the rules, compassion and dignity fall by the wayside. Nonetheless, rapidly expanding populations of the frail elderly, combined with shrinking numbers of family caregivers, ensure a steady stream of residents.
Stolen Time is the first documentary I know of that portrays an emerging elder justice movement tied to the giving and receiving of care. As with the groundbreaking environmentalists of the 1990s who demanded a new paradigm for our survival on this planet, individuals and communities around the world are now questioning more and more how we value care work and relationships. Ultimately, none of us will thrive without life-affirming care.
During the pandemic, when vulnerable seniors and nursing home workers made headlines, some asked, perhaps naively, whether long-overdue recognition of care work had finally hit the mainstream. Alas, care’s moment in the spotlight proved to be hardly more than that. As a filmmaker and storyteller who is drawn to the unseen and undervalued, I see much remains to be done.
Written and directed by
Director of Photography
JEAN PAUL VIALARD
ANONYMOUS RETIREMENT RESIDENT
ANONYMOUS RETIREMENT WORKER
ANONYMOUS DENTAL HYGIENIST
DAVID J LEVY
HOWIE, SACKS & HENRY
Illustrations created by
Graphic Design and Animation
Additional Location Sound
Additional Assistant Camera
SCOTT ANDREW BURTON
Production Coordinators (development)
Production and Art Department Assistant
Art Department Consultant
CHARLES-ETIENNE VIAU – BEEBOP STUDIOS
PHILIPPINE DE SARS
Sound Design Studio
BANDE À PART
Personal Family Archives
THANKS TO THE FAMILIES OF FRED, ROBERT, EVANGELIA, AND MARIA
FINE GOLD MUSIC
“HOLD YOU DEAR”
Written and performed by: THE SECRET SISTERS
Published by: RESERVOIR 416 OBO ITSELF, SONGS OF ONE RIOT, FAKE BIRD EGG MUSIC, LYDIA LANE COULDN’T CATCH A TRAIN
Courtesy of: NEW WEST RECORDS
By arrangement with: SUGAROO
“WITH ALL MY LOVE”
Performed by: MELANIE DE BIASIO
Written by: MELANIE DE BIASIO
Courtesy of: PLAY IT AGAIN SAM / [PIAS]
NATHALIE AREL – BEEBOP STUDIOS
MEMBER OF FRONT ROW INSURANCE BROKERS
LUSSIER & KHOUZAM
NATIONAL BANK OF CANADA
End Credit Design
Digital Editing Technicians
Senior Production Coordinators
LESLIE ANNE POYNTZ
TO MELISSA’S CLIENTS AND THEIR LOVED ONES, WHO COULD NOT BE NAMED BECAUSE OF ONGOING LITIGATION.
JAMES HOWIE SILVANA CARGOE CATHERINE PARKES JUNE S MORRISON
AARON GRUNTKE MARIE TRIPP JANE MEADUS CONNIE MEDEIROS
LONNIE WELLMAN ELIZABETH DE LOS RIOS HERNANDEZ FALON CASTELLANO CHRISTINE TEMPLE
NATALIE MERHA VIVIAN STAMATOPOULOS KATHERINE SMITH AMIT ARYA
JULIE GRECO NIAGARA COLLEGE (PSW AND GERONTOLOGY PROGRAMS) RUSSELL AND ROBERT HANDELMAN
PAUL TUTTLE GWELDA MACDONALD JESSE RIGBY ELITE INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES
UNIFOR UNIFOR LOCAL 8300 THE CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE TAX ACCOUNTABILITY AND RESEARCH
PUBLIC SERVICE ALLIANCE OF CANADA MAKE REVERA PUBLIC CAMPAIGN CANADIANS4LTC
ONTARIO HEALTH COALITION LAWYERS AND STAFF OF HENRY, SACKS & HENRY KEVIN SKERRETT
MELANIE BENARD SUSAN BRAEDLEY CYNTHIA CRAWFORD DAVE HAUCH
ZAID NOOSUMAR DEENA LADD MICHAEL MCBANE JENNIFER LAIWINT
JANET M HAYDOCK RACHEL MACLEAN JONATHAN MARCHAND KAT CIZEK
MICHELLE VAN BEUSEKOM KITRA CAHANA BARRI COHEN KARINA CASANOVA GARCIA
KAREN KNIE CAHANA MICHAEL BOSSIN SOPHIE BISSONNETTE LISA GOLDMAN
FRAN KLODAWSKY FRANCOIS DAGENAIS JOSH FICHMAN-GOLDBERG SIMON KILMURRY
SALINA DUONG CESARIO LAVERY JOHN LUCAS SIMONE LUCAS YASMINE LUCAS
COLLABORATORS AND VOLUNTEERS AT THE BROKEN HEARTS EMPTY SHOES PROTEST.
THE LTC RESIDENTS AND STAFF WHO DIED IN LTC DURING THE PANDEMIC AND THEIR LOVED ONES WHO REMEMBER THEM.
THE PSWS AND NURSES ARRIVING EARLY FOR WORK.
Produced with the participation of
The Canadian Film or Video
Production Tax Credit
Produced in association with
Super Channel Entertainment Network
JACKIE PARDY, Chief Content Officer
© 2023 Intuitive Pictures Productions Inc. a subsidiary of Intuitive Pictures Inc. and the National Film Board of Canada. All rights reserved.