Now a Writer

When I was in grade seven at Coronation School in Montreal, I won a tiny potted ash tree as an award for writing the best essay – a sentimental piece about spring, a popular fantasy for Montrealers in the middle of winter. This confirmed to me that I was a writer. A storyteller for life.

Writing is central to the research and development of our documentary projects. Writing for film involves showing and telling lives lived, gleaned from multiple conversations, long relationships with film participants, and layered reflection.

My documentary travels have been a source of determination, occasional uncertainty, and great satisfaction. That road led me to the triumphs and suffering of film participants, who allowed me to travel with them.

I am a curious person. I ask questions endlessly. I listen hard, and I connect the experiences of the many friends and strangers I have met in this work.

There is a seamless continuity between my life as a documentarian and my new life as a creative nonfiction writer.

I have been supported by residencies at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, The Blue Mountain Centre, and The Creative Writing Retreat at The Lodge at Pine Cove. I completed Creative Non-Fiction Writing courses at the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. Since 2016, I have been a member of a hard-working, diverse, provocative group of writers.

My Books

At Banff, I wrote morning, noon and night. So began the collection that became Talking Hearts, 22 stories about love, yearning and loss among the women in my family. The stories turn on hidden lives in Montreal secular, working-class Jewish community.

Talking Hearts

Working Title explores 35 years of documentary filmmaking through essays that explore the intense ethical and personal dilemmas at the heart of my work — stuff that kept me awake for nights, and sometimes years. Working Title is my contribution to the documentary world–a book for lovers of the form, for educational settings, and for the just plain curious. I want to convey the experience of filmmaking’s dilemmas, joyful times, and hard parts as navigated by a female director and her dedicated crew.

Working Title Photo by Vincenzo Pietropaolo          

The collection, which I am co-creating with my collaborator and cinematographer, Jim Aquila, focuses on select films that resonate deeply with participants and crew. I see this project as part of my legacy. My work is both traditional and innovative. I have championed methods that break rules, create new rules, and that are informed by heartfelt ethical considerations.

My People

My editor is Susan Scott, nonfiction editor with The New Quarterly and director of the Wild Writers Mentorship Program.

I have studied with Helen Humphreys, and Oakland Ross, and with Ayelet Tsabari, Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall and Beth Kaplan in the Creative Non-Fiction Program at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

Writing Samples

Moving Mountains

The Mine, the Women and the Deep Dark Snow

"Canaries in the Mine," in Woman's Health: Intersections of Policy, Research and Practice, eds. Pat Armstrong and Ann Pederson (Toronto: Women's Press, 2015).

First Memories 2021