British Columbia

B.C. director wins New York International Film Award with documentary on ADHD

Last Friday, Kelowna, B.C., filmmaker Gillie Richards won the award for best inspirational film at the New York International Film Awards for her debut documentary Shiny Objects - The Conductor with ADHD. The film focuses on Okanagan Symphony Orchestra conductor Rosemary Thomson, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at 56.

Shiny Objects - The Conductor with ADHD is scheduled to premiere in Kelowna in September

Okanagan Symphony Orchestra conductor Rosemary Thomson prepares to conduct in the award-winning documentary Shiny Objects ‒ The Conductor with ADHD. Thomson was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at 56. (Submitted by Gillie Richards)

For Kelowna, B.C., filmmaker Gillie Richards, making a motion picture about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) turned out to be more than just a story about someone else.

As she was putting the film together, she was diagnosed with the disorder as well. 

Richards was interviewing psychologist Irene Spelliscy and life coach Dan Duncan for the documentary when she found out she also has ADHD.

Much to her delight, on Friday, Richards learned her debut documentary Shiny Objects ‒ The Conductor with ADHD had won the best inspirational film title at the New York International Film Awards.

The 40-minute film focuses on Okanagan Symphony Orchestra conductor Rosemary Thomson, who was diagnosed with ADHD at 56 and explored the disorder when her career was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Oh, my gosh. Ecstatic!" Richards told Sarah Penton, the host of CBC's Radio West, as she described how she felt about the award.

 "Our intention is really to get the word out and talk about ADHD and neurodiversity and how to be successful being nervous in life." 

WATCH | Trailer of Shiny Objects ‒ The Conductor with ADHD

Thomson, the subject of Richards's documentary, says discovering her ADHD so late was a life-changing experience.

"If you have a neurodiversity that you don't realize, you just assume everybody else thinks like you," she said. "That can be very frustrating both for me and for people who are dealing with me."

"Just understanding better how I can function in a world that's built for very neurotypical brains has been very, very deeply satisfying."

As a filmmaker, Richards says the discovery that she too has ADHD made the creative process even more meaningful.

"It became even more real and personal through the [filmmaking] process, because it actually turns out that people who like to make films and are super-creative have a higher likelihood of neurodiversity.

"The process actually helped me learn better how my own brain works and also put the tools in place, so that I could complete a film in three months for the first time," Richards said.

According to Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, ADHD affects attention span, concentration and ability to control impulses, and may lead to behaviours such as frequently interrupting others' conversations, low tolerance for frustration and stubbornness. This disorder is likely genetically caused.

Thomson, right, says it has been a life-changing experience to discover her ADHD late in life. (Submitted by Gillie Richards)

The documentary is scheduled to premiere in Kelowna in September.

With files from Radio West

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now