Nfld. & Labrador·Audio

Atlantic Voice: Love, Scott follows a man's journey after violent attack

The documentary follows Jones's journey after a violent attack leaves him paralyzed from the waist down. An intimate and visually evocative window into queer experience.

Subject Scott Jones and director Laura Marie Wayne are interviewed on new documentary

Choral conductor Scott Jones is the subject of Love, Scott. (Submitted by NFB)

For the season opener of CBC Radio's Atlantic Voice, producer Angela Antle speaks with choral conductor Scott Jones and filmmaker Laura Marie Wayne about their documentary Love, Scott.

The National Film Board documentary explores the violent 2013 attack that left Jones paralyzed. He was beaten, stabbed and his throat slashed as he left a bar in his hometown of New Glasgow.

Jones says he was targeted because he's gay.

Shane Matheson, 19, was jailed for 10 years for attempted murder. Part of the documentary explores Jones's frustration that the police never investigated the attack as a hate crime.

How can a team of mostly heterosexual men truly understand this queer experience? Are they asking they right questions and they looking for the right evidence?- Scott Jones

Director Laura Marie Wayne, who has been friends with Jones for over a decade, says filming him while he lay in pain in his hospital bed, days after the attack, was very difficult.

Jones himself admits feeling uncomfortable watching that footage today.

"Seeing how much I was hurting was difficult. It brought up a lot, but it's also really healing to see that because I can see how far I've come."

As part of his rehabilitation, Jones started an anti-homophobia campaign called "Don't Be Afraid." As part of the campaign, friends formed an anti-hate choir called Vox.

Jones conducts the Vox choir in Halifax in a scene from the National Film Board's Love, Scott. (Submitted by NFB)

Initially, they rehearsed with Jones in the cafeteria of the Nova Scotia Rehab Centre, where he was being treated for his injuries.

"The journey began with the choir helping me and then as I was getting better, the focus shifted to helping society and we became a choir for social change and that is reflective of this journey of forgiveness that I've had with Shane."

Jones is now pursing a doctorate in music education at the University of Toronto exploring choir as an agent for social change.

First, I was really angry and then it became about society. How did Shane become this way?- Scott Jones

Jones was only able to reach forgiveness when he considered the role society plays in perpetuating homophobia.

"It's so important for youth to be talking about homophobia and transphobia. Often it's not talked about at all in our school system."

Jones says the recent Ontario government decision to rescind sex education is a huge step backwards.

"The piece of the puzzle that opened me up to forgiving Shane, was widening my perspective and looking beyond Shane," Jones said.

"What caused Shane to do this? Yes, he did this and I'm not justifying what he did or excusing it, but we all have a responsibility to look further, otherwise we're not going to make any significant changes. We just blame Shane and send him to prison. That does not solve anything."

I haven't forgiven the justice system. I haven't forgiven the police or these entities that perpetuate homophobia.- Scott Jones

Wayne says part of her inspiration for wanting to make the film was frustration with the oversimplification of Jones's story in media reports.

"The media version was really simple. It left out all of the loss, grief and sorrow and all of the doors that had been closed to him and all of the costs because of the wheelchair."

Laura Marie Wayne interviews Jones for the film. (Submitted by NFB)

Ultimately, the documentary is an exploration of the power of friendship and art and the role forgiveness can play in healing. Love, Scott screens at the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival on Sept. 17 in Halifax.

CBC Radio One's Atlantic Voice is heard Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. in Newfoundland, 8:30 a.m. in the Maritimes and much of Labrador.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Angela Antle