Sheldon Kennedy's life featured in New Jersey filmmaker's documentary

It's been almost 20 years since the NHL hockey player came forward about the abuse he suffered from former coach Graham James. A new film called "Swift Current" looks at how Kennedy still struggles all these years later.

'Swift Current' looks at Kennedy's struggle to deal with past abuse

A new documentary on hockey player Sheldon Kennedy will be screened in Swift Current on Friday night. (CBC )

A documentary that focuses on the struggles hockey player Sheldon Kennedy faced following years of sexual abuse by his former coach opens this weekend at the Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival in Toronto. 

Director Joshua Rofé says he grew up in New Jersey playing hockey. He remembers as a teen reading stories on Sheldon Kennedy and how he came forward about the sexual abuse he suffered from Swift Current Broncos hockey coach Graham James.

Kennedy played for the Broncos at the time of the assaults. He went on to play in the National Hockey League. 

James served 3 1/2 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in 1997 to sex offences against Sheldon Kennedy and two others.

"We need to take this out of the shadows because people are suffering." - Joshua Rofé

Rofé says Swift Current looks at the period of time when the cameras went away and Kennedy was left to deal with the trauma of the abuse.

Kennedy was unsure about doing the film at first as his story has been shared many times before.

But Rofé says he told Kennedy, "we're going to make it about recovery from sexual abuse trauma and give a voice to victims that frankly they've never had so in depth in a documentary."

The film also highlights the story of two college students in Ontario who seek help from Kennedy after disclosing their own sexual abuse. 

Rofé hopes people will talk about this type of abuse more after seeing the documentary.

"We need to take this out of the shadows because people are suffering," said Rofé.