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The Song and The Sorrow

This screening took place on
Friday, July 12, 2019 at 3:00pm
The Globe Theatre, Atlin, BC

“Elvis covered his songs. I mean, everybody did his songs… But any time I tried to tell him how great he was he felt like he didn’t deserve it.” – Anne Murray Juno-award-winning musician Catherine MacLellan steps onto the stage, guitar in hand. It’s taken a long time—decades—but she is finally ready to sing her father’s songs.

The daughter of Canadian folk legend Gene MacLellan, Catherine grew up surrounded by her father’s music. An immensely talented songwriter, he penned some of the biggest hits of the 1970s, including “Snowbird” and “Put Your Hand in the Hand.” Archival interviews and musical clips show him looking rakish in an eye-patch and bell bottoms. He was a rising star in the Canadian music industry but turned his back on the spotlight as it pursued him. Catherine remembers a funny and sweet father who was becoming a close friend as she entered her teen years. Gene committed suicide when she was 14.

This powerful and beautiful documentary follows Catherine as she tries to come to terms with her father and his legacy while facing her own struggles with mental health. She reaches out to family, friends, and musicians like Anne Murray, Lennie Gallant and the late Ron Hynes, who knew and played with Gene. They recall a generous and talented man who was never at ease with fame or money. And for the first time, Catherine’s family faces the unspoken spectre of Gene’s struggle with bipolar disorder. For Catherine MacLellan, the silence and avoidance has gone on long enough. Now, she seeks to celebrate her father and his music while encouraging people to talk openly about mental illness, hoping others can take strength and solace from her story.

Screens with: Face Dir. Jona Barr, Lia Fabre-Dimsdale, Brendan Preston, 2019, YT, 4min

Music by Jeremy Parkin. Featuring Daniel Hager. Made in the youth hip hop music video series in partnership with the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre.


  • Directed by Millefiore Clarkes & Jona Barr, Lia Fabre-Dimsdale, Brendan Preston
  • 2018, Canada
  • 46 minutes

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