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15 Reasons to Live

This screening took place on
Friday, February 7, 2014 at 3:00pm
Yukon Arts Centre

Awarded the “best Canadian feature” at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

We humans love our lists. To-do lists, resolution lists, “bucket lists” - unequivocal directives all. As the old saying goes, Moses didn’t come down from the mountain with The Ten Suggestions. So when documentarian Alan Zweig discovered Ray Robertson’s non-fiction book Why Not? Fifteen Reasons To Live, (and came to know Ray Robertson), he was intrigued by the concept of organizing the panoply of life itself into a list.

Said 15 reasons are: Love, solitude, critical mind, art, individuality, home, work, humour, friendship, intoxication, praise, meaning, body, duty and death. To savour them all would presumably be to truly live.

Thus was born 15 Reasons To Live, the most ambitious work to date by Zweig (Lovable; I, Curmudgeon; Vinyl), with his first use of a crew, a wide location schedule (stretching a thousand miles from North Carolina to Montreal), and a first-time use of animation mixed with live documentary.

Inspired by Robertson’s list, Zweig re-created or sought out real-life stories of human experience that fit Robertson’s 15 Reasons categories. Two of the stories, both animated, were intensely personal - including Death, taken from Zweig’s friendship with the late actress Tracey Wright, and the lighter-hearted Individuality, about a gentle anonymous act of vandalism (or art?) perpetrated upon his car.

After running into a neighbourhood acquaintance at the local used record store who shared his list of 15 reasons to live, Alan Zweig felt a strong compulsion to make a film on the subject, despite his admission, “I didn’t make lists and I never thought about reasons to live.” From this inspiration begins a series of episodic chapters adapted to the themes of Ray Robertson’s collection of essays. The participants are as eclectic as the list, sharing personal anecdotes related to (among other themes) work, love, intoxication, humour, solitude, duty, home and death. Humorous and sometimes heartbreaking, Zweig’s compassion for his subjects and their stories, expressed through his conversational and candid interview style, ties these vignettes together in a visual essay that strikes deeper chords about finding meaning in our existence. Amongst his subjects’ reasons to live Zweig finds a couple of his own in his touching, honest and endearing way.

  • Directed by Alan Zweig
  • 2013, Ontario
  • 83 minutes
    15 Reasons to Live

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