Regina filmmaker explores grief in new film about her mother

Marie-France Guerrette is a filmmaker from Regina whose latest work is over 20 years in the making.  

Film premieres at Regina Public Library on Monday night

Guerrette, right, during the making of her new film, Unmothered. (Submitted by Marie-France Guerrette)

Marie-France Guerrette is a filmmaker from Regina whose latest work is over 20 years in the making. 

Guerrette lost her mother to breast cancer when she was just 14. After her death, Guerrette said she, her dad and her sister didn't talk much about it because it was simply too hard. Now, she is ready to share. 

Sans Maman (Unmothered) is Guerrette's new film about the loss of her mother and includes interviews with her family and excerpts from a goodbye cassette her mom left to her. It premieres in Regina Monday night at the Regina Public Library. 

"I remember so much about her," she said. "My mom was a fiery Acadian, always really well-dressed and put together. She was a short little woman who loved to smoke her cigarettes and have a beer and laugh. She loved being a mom."

A poster for the film. (Submitted by Marie-France Guerrette)

Guerrette said it was hard to give empathy to herself during the filmmaking process, even though she has made other documentaries about difficult subjects.

"Especially in editing, looking at myself and listening to myself speak, watching myself cry at times and be raw and not be perfect, I really had to learn to like myself," she said.

There is a moment in the film where Guerrette gets tested for the hereditary gene for breast cancer she thinks her mother may have had. She said she thought a lot about that moment before she decided to film it and include it. 

"I talked to my producer at the National Film Board about it a lot," she said. 

"I want people to know that I actually took my time. I took a full couple years to think about it. I went to therapy," she said.

Guerrette said that coming home to Regina to show the film is special to her. She's now living in Edmonton. 

"I feel like it's full circle," she said. 

"I feel like I'm ready. My mom died in Regina, I grew up in Regina, so I'm hoping people who come will be her friends, people maybe I don't know who knew her who feel like hearing her voice again and seeing how we're doing since her death."

The film will play Monday night at 7 p.m. CST at the Regina Public Library.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend


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