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2017 Hot Docs Festival, Toronto, Canada

April 30, 6:30 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre – RUSH TICKETS
May 1, 1:15 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
May 6, 4:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

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Illuminating a unique paradigm for domestic-violence prevention, A Better Man offers a fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone involved when men take responsibility for their abuse. It also empowers audience members to play new roles in challenging domestic violence, whether it’s in their own relationships or as part of a broader movement for social change.

“I desperately want domestic violence to stop. Art, storytelling, and deep, painful conversations are an integral part of the solution. By getting closer to the truth of what survivors experience, and of why men choose to use violence, we can help stop the violence.

A Better Man documents a personal experiment for me and my abusive ex-partner, a step towards healing, understanding, and accountability. My hope is that our story will motivate others to find new, creative solutions to a problem that continues to be a global epidemic.”

– Attiya Khan, Co-Director

Filmmakers

The production team for A Better Man brings years of experience on award-winning, high-quality documentaries. The team includes:

ATTIYA KHAN (Co-Writer, Co-Director) is a Toronto-based feminist, intimate partner violence survivor, and long-time advocate and counselor for abused women and children. Attiya conceived the idea for A Better Man in 2012, drawing on her personal and professional experience with intimate partner violence. Attiya has worked in women’s shelters in Canada and the United States, including running the Child and Youth Services Program at Transition House in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also worked at YWCA Toronto, supporting the communications and advocacy team, managing a training program on crisis intervention, and administering the December 6th Fund, which offers interest-free loans to women fleeing domestic violence. As a writer, activist, and speaker, she has presented at numerous events and conferences related to domestic violence. Together with her family, she recently co-founded a YWCA Toronto scholarship program for domestic violence survivors.

LAWRENCE JACKMAN (Co-Writer, Co-Director, Editor) is a Toronto-based filmmaker. Over the past 15 years, he has worked on many award-winning films, focusing primarily on independent documentaries and dramas. He often works as an editorial consultant and has a long-standing association with the NFB in this role. Jackman has experience working at critical stages to creatively and structurally bring films to completion. Both as an editor and a director, he is interested in creative storytelling and pushing genre boundaries. In 2011, he directed How Does It Feel, a documentary musical about the importance of creative fulfillment that tells the story of a singer with cerebral palsy.

CHRISTINE KLECKNER (Producer) is a producer whose short film Barefoot (2012) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, received honourable mention at The Berlinale, and was selected for the Not Short on Talent Showcase at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.  Prior to that, she produced Wapawekka (2010) which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance and the Berlinale. During her time with the National Film Board of Canada, she collaborated on groundbreaking projects including Stories We Tell and the multi-platform Filmmaker-in-Residence. She is an alumni of the National Screen Institute of Canada’s Drama Prize Program. Christine resides in Toronto.

JUSTINE PIMLOTT (NFB Producer) is a multi-award-winning producer who began her film career interning with the NFB’s legendary women’s studio, Studio D. She was a co-founder of Red Queen Productions before joining the NFB’s Ontario Studio as a producer. Justine’s productions include Derby Crazy Love, which had a European premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2014; the NFB co-production The Mystery of Mazo de la Roche (recipient of the Yorkton Film Festival’s Golden Sheaf Award for Best Social Issue Documentary), Dish: Women, Waitressing & the Art of ServiceCat City, the Gemini-nominated Girl InsideFag Hags: Women Who Love Gay Men and Punch Like a Girl, as well as Laugh In The Dark, winner of Best Social Issue Doc at Hot Docs.

IRIS NG (Director of Cinematography) is a cinematographer with over a decade of experience collaborating with award-winning filmmakers and artists. Her credits encompass art, narrative films, documentary series, commercials, and music videos, with a focus on long-form documentaries including Stories We Tell directed by Sarah Polley, Herman’s House directed by Angad Bhalla (Emmy Award for Outstanding Arts & Culture Program), The Ghosts in our Machine directed by Liz Marshall, and most recently, a portion of the the 10-part Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, Storyline Entertainment’s League of Exotique Dancers, and Yap Films’ Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl for the PBS series American Masters. She has also lensed films directed by Min Sook Lee, Fredrik Gertten, Michael McNamara, Martha Burns, Fisher Stevens, and artists Chris Curreri, Richard Fung, and Oliver Husain. iriscinematography.com

LESLEY BARBER (Composer) A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Class of 2016, film composer Lesley Barber writes music marked by intelligence and emotional depth. She has scored a string of award-winning and highly acclaimed projects, including Kenneth Lonergan’s multi-award-winning and Oscar-nominated film, Manchester by the SeaHer distinguished list of credits include Lonergan’s Oscar-winning You Can Count On Me, Jerry Rothwell’s award-winning documentary How To Change The World, Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park, Mira Nair’s Golden Globe-winning Hysterical Blindness, Mary Harron’s Moth Diaries, the children’s classic Little Bear with Maurice Sendak, Yo-Yo Ma: Six Gestures, Wiebke Von Carolsfeld’s Marion Bridge, Allison Anders’ Beaches, and the recently released powerhouse doc The Apology by Tiffany Hsiung. Lesley is a proud and active member of the Alliance for Women Film Composers, which has taken a leading role in the much-publicized diversity conversation now occurring in Hollywood. She has a passion for good food, great cities and interesting company.

SARAH POLLEY (Executive Producer) is a Governor General’s Award-winning writer-director whose dramatic features include Away from Her (nominated in 2007 for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and winner of the 2008 Genie Awards for Best Motion Picture and Achievement in Direction) and Take This Waltz, starring Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams and Sarah Silverman. Her third film, Stories We Tell, was awarded Best Documentary by the Toronto Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It was also on the shortlist for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Most recently, Polley adapted Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace for Netflix and CBC and serves as Executive Producer for the upcoming six-hour miniseries.

ANITA LEE (NFB Executive Producer) leads development and production at the NFB’s Ontario Studio. Anita is a multi-award-winning producer with 20 years’ experience in the industry and founder of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. As NFB producer since 2005, her credits include some of the most acclaimed and inventive works in recent NFB history, including Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell. Prior to joining the NFB, Lee produced a slate of award-winning independent films that premiered at international festivals including TIFF, Sundance and Berlin and were theatrically released.

JANE JANKOVIC (TVO Executive Producer) originally joined TVO as senior producer of its Gemini-award winning daily current-affairs program Studio 2 and has been commissioning documentaries since 2007. TVO is a public media organization that informs, inspires, and stimulates curiosity and thought. Commissions focus on social-issue and current-affairs documentaries and digital media projects that focus on contemporary social, political and cultural issues that are of direct relevance to Canadian audiences and promote citizen engagement. Recent examples include Lowdown TracksDavid and MeThe Polar SeaThe Defector: Escape From North KoreaThe Lost HighwayOut of Mind Out of Sight.

JANICE DAWE (Executive Producer) brings to A Better Man years of expertise in producing and financing award-winning documentaries for Canadian and international buyers. Most recently, she executive produced Michèle Hozer’s 2016 Canadian Screen Award-nominated documentary Sugar Coated (TVOntario, Netflix, Canal D and ZDF). Janice held the senior role of Vice-President Production at White Pine Pictures, one of Canada’s most respected documentary production companies earning Executive Producer credits for The Experimental Eskimos (Allan King Award for Excellence in Documentary), Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children, and the Gemini-nominated mobile app released documentary series City Sonic. Over her career, Janice has formed strong relationships with the creative community, broadcasters, buyers, financiers and lenders. Janice currently serves on the OMDC Screen-based Industry Advisory Committee and is an active committee member for the CMPA.

KATHY AVRICH-JOHNSON (Executive Producer) – Creative producers turn to Kathy for her valuable insights, as well as straightforward and practical approach to addressing the issues, challenges and opportunities of rights acquisitions, co-production, financing, delicate clearances matters and domestic and international distribution. In addition to producing hundreds of hours of drama including the series Rookie Blue and Saving Hope, Kathy was executive producer of Allan King’s last three feature documentaries, the award-winning Dying at Grace, Memory for Max Claire Ida and Company and Empz 4 Life. Kathy produced two comedic documentaries through her production company Canadian Accents for the CBC arts strand “Opening Night”. Kathy is the author of two much-appreciated and well-thumbed producer handbooks: Development and Other Production Challenges (published by Telefilm Canada, 2003) and Canadian Production Finance (published by the Ontario Media Development Corporation & Telefilm Canada, 1998; revised 2001).

Supporters

Endorsements

Press Room

NFB Electronic Press Kit
2017 Press Kit
2014 Indiegogo Press Kit

News Releases

March 27, 2017
Groundbreaking documentary “A Better Man” to premiere at Hot Docs 2017

March 21, 2017
Hot Docs 2017 Festival To Showcase 230 Documentaries from 58 Countries

March 21, 2017
Four world premieres among 17 NFB documentaries featured at Hot Docs 2017

February 26, 2016
Principal photography on the Intervention Productions/National Film Board of Canada (NFB) co-production A Better Man is underway in Toronto

March 8, 2015
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation donates $25,000 to A Better Man

December 17, 2014
Indiegogo campaign for A Better Man enters its final hours

November 12, 2014
Feist Pledges $10,000 to Indiegogo Campaign for A Better Man

Media Coverage

POV Magazine
The Freshmen: First-time feature filmmakers break out with exciting debuts
By Pat Mullen
April 27, 2017

Toronto Life
Q&A: Attiya Khan, the filmmaker who confronted the man who abused her in a new documentary, A Better Man
By Emily M. Keeler
April 26, 2017

NOW Magazine
Iris Ng, one of Toronto’s busiest documentary cinematographers, returns to Hot Docs
By Kevin Ritchie
April 26, 2017

Truro Daily News
Truro counsellor stars in national documentary about domestic violence
By Jonathan Riley
April 26, 2017

The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti
CBC Radio
‘Has it affected him?’ Woman confronts her abuser in documentary ‘A Better Man’
April 25, 2017

The Toronto Star
A Better Man documentary explores aftermath of abusive relationships
By Megan Dolski
April 25, 2017

The Globe and Mail
★★★☆ 3/4 stars
April 21, 2017

The Globe and Mail
The documentary A Better Man is an unprecedented look at the main cause of domestic violence: the assailant
By Julia Cooper
April 14, 2017

The Globe and Mail
Heart-to-heart with her abuser
By Zosia Bielski
April 11, 2017

Torontoist
The Film A Better Man Challenges Abusive Partners to be Accountable
By Rhiannon Russell
August 17, 2016

The Globe and Mail
Film campaign asks women to tweet questions they would ask their abusers
By Zosia Bielski
August 11, 2016

Realscreen
“A Better Man” set for 2017 release
By Kevin Ritchie
February 26, 2016

Playback
Khan nets another $25K for domestic violence doc
By Etan Vlessing
March 9, 2015

The Loop
Words of wisdom from 12 inspiring women who make us proud to be Canadian
By Kevin Naulls
March 6, 2015

The Loop
This woman’s boyfriend abused her for two years, and what she did about it is remarkable
By Corrina Allen
December 5, 2014

Ottawa Citizen
Without Men, Feminism Can’t Stop Violence Against Women
By Angelina Chapin
December 5, 2014

Maclean’s
#Project97
‘I think some men who use violence can change’
As told to Rachel Browne
December 4, 2014

The Toronto Star
How to make a better man
By Edward Keenan
November 30, 2014

SheKnows United Kingdom
How can we help abusive men change?
By Claire Gillespie
November 24, 2014

The Strombo Show with George Stroumboulopoulos
Magnificent 7: #1 Choir!Choir!Choir! / Better Man (1:58:00)
November 23, 2014 

Huffington Post Canada
HuffPost Living, HuffPost Impact
I Asked My Abuser To Talk on Film.  He Said Yes
By Attiya Khan
November 21, 2014

NOW Magazine
T.O. Music Notes: Feist Donates to Documentary about Domestic Abuse
November 19, 2014 

Toronto Film Scene
Crowdfunding Project of the Week: A Better Man
By Prerana Das
November 17, 2014

The National
CBC News
New documentary looks at both sides of domestic violence
By Eli Glasner
November 16, 2014

CBC News
Canadian filmmaker, Attiya Khan, gets celebrity support for film on violence against women
November 15, 2014
Aired on CBC News Network
Also on MSN Entertainment, Yahoo! Canada News

The Purple Fig
“A Better Man” Focuses on the Abuser in the Fight To End Domestic Violence
By Trish Bentley
November 14, 2014

Shedoesthecity.com
‘A Better Man’ Turns the Lens on Abusers
November 13, 2014

Strictly Docs
1, 2, 3, 4…Feist Gave 10,000 More
By Steve Gow
November 13, 2014

Realscreen
Sarah Polley, Leslie Feist back domestic abuse doc
By Etan Vlessing
November 13, 2014

ET Canada
Feist pledges $10,000 To Support a Documentary That Focuses on Violence Against Women
By Dan Macrae
November 12, 2014 

Playback
Sarah Polley, Feist back doc on violence against women
By Etan Vlessing
November 12, 2014 

NOW Magazine
Feist donates $10,000 to film about violence against women
By Kate Robertson
November 12, 2014

The Hollywood Reporter
Feist Backs Indiegogo Campaign for Canadian Sex Abuse Doc
By Etan Vlessing
November 12, 2014

Here and Now Toronto with Gill Deacon
CBC Radio
November 10, 2014
Re-aired on Metro Morning with Matt Galloway on November 13, 2014, and Big City, Small World on November 22, 2014

Resources

Support Services:

Shelter Safe
Directory of emergency and transitional shelter and housing services across Canada for women experiencing gender-based violence.

Note: Shelters vary in their degrees of inclusivity for transgender women, and many are not accessible at all to gender non-conforming and non-binary people. Shelter workers interested in creating safer, more welcoming spaces for LGBTQ2S clients may wish to review the following resources, which are designed for youth shelters but aspects of which can also be applied at shelters for those experiencing intimate partner violence:


Bridges Institute
Selected list of services for men who have used violence, including intervention and counseling programs across Canada to help men create just outcomes for the partners or ex-partners they have abused.

Moosehide Campaign
List of community programs to support men in making non-violent choices in relationships, with a focus on services for Indigenous men.

Act to End Violence Against Women
List of hotlines, programs and support services across Canada for women who have experienced gender-based violence.

Toronto Distress Centre
(416) 408-4357
Support hotline for people experiencing emotional distress or in need of crisis intervention and suicide prevention (including people who have used and/or experienced violence, or anyone else in distress).

Gerstein Crisis Centre
(416) 929-5200
Support by hotline for people experiencing a mental health crisis and/or at risk of suicide (including people who have used and/or experienced violence, or anyone else in crisis).

Assaulted Women’s Helpline
1 (866) 863-0511
Toll-free support hotline for women who have experienced gender-based violence.

Fem’aide Hotline
1 (877) 336-2433
Toll-free support hotline for Francophone women who have experienced gender-based violence.

Kids Help Phone
1 (800) 668-6868
General distress hotline for children and youth, including those who may be experiencing or using violence.

Ontario Women’s Justice Network
Extensive and diverse list of counseling, legal and support services for women across Ontario, including those experiencing gender-based violence.

Aboriginal Justice Strategy Programs – Canada
Directory of a range of alternative justice programs for Indigenous communities across Canada, including peacemaking circles, restorative justice programs, and courts with Indigenous judges, Crown attorneys and other key personnel.

Canadian Restorative Justice Consortium
Directory of restorative justice programs and organizations across Canada.

Learning Tools (General Audience):

Surviving the system handbook: Advice on using the legal system if you are a survivor of sexual violence (Free)
By: Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children
Great for: People who have experienced violence and want to know what to expect if they seek justice through the legal system (criminal, civil or administrative). The guide targets sexual violence but much of the information is also relevant for those who have experienced other forms of gender-based violence such as intimate partner violence (IPV).

9 ways to be accountable when you’ve been abusive (Free)
By: Everyday Feminism (Author: Kai Cheng-Thom)
Great for: People who have used violence and wish to learn how they might be able to take responsibility for the harm they have caused.

Neighbours, Friends and Families (Free)
By: Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Western University
Great for: People whose friends, family or community members are experiencing or using violence. Includes tips on safety planning, identifying and supporting those who may be experiencing violence, and speaking with those who are using violence.

Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence (Free)
By: Creative Interventions
Great for: People who wish to develop in-depth understanding of how to intervene constructively at the individual and community level in instances of interpersonal violence (including IPV). A comprehensive, accessibly written and practical resource with chapters that stand well independently if reading the full toolkit is not possible.

Choosing to Change: A Handbook for Men Concerned About their Abusive Behaviours Toward Those They Love (Free, PDF)
By: Calgary Women’s Shelter
Great for: Men who have used violence against a partner and would like a starting point for changing these patterns and making healthy, caring and respectful choices in their relationships.

Unclenching Our Fists: Abusive Men on the Journey to Non-Violence ($9.99 E-book)
By: Sara Elinoff Acker
Great for: Men who have abused a partner and would benefit from hearing first-person stories from real men who have used violence, sharing in their own words their personal paths to non-violence and how these journeys have changed them.

6 ways to confront your friend who’s abusing their partner (Free)
By: Everyday Feminism (Author: Kai Cheng-Thom)
Great for: People who wish to speak with a friend or loved one about their abusive choices. This article’s approach affirms the humanity of the person using violence as well as the person experiencing it, and holds space for complicated feelings.

The Peak Magazine, Transformative justice issue (Free)
By: The Peak Magazine (various authors and contributors)
Great for: Anyone seeking an introduction to the principles of transformative justice. Includes many examples of how to put the principles into action, in settings ranging from prisons to schools to our own homes and personal relationships.

Restorative justice e-library (Free)
By: Restorative Justice for All
Great for: People who wish to learn more about the theory and practice of restorative justice through a searchable catalogue of multimedia resources.

Learning Tools (Service Providers): 

Innovations in Interventions to Address Intimate Partner Violence: Research and Practice (Starting at $34.97)
By: Tod Augusta-Scott, Katreena Scott and Leslie M. Tutty (Eds.)
Great for: Service providers, policymakers, and others interested in the latest research and practice in intimate partner violence (IPV) intervention, with sections on legal and restorative approaches, how best to support people experiencing or using violence, and best practices in integrating IPV intervention across systems.

Coaching Boys Into Men Toolkit (Free)
By: Coaches Corner
Great for: Coaches, teachers and others who wish to model healthy and respectful relationship skills for boys, and equip them with the capacity to recognize and challenge harmful social norms that contribute to gender-based violence.

Evidence Brief: Intimate Partner Violence in LGBTQ Communities (Free, PDF)
By: Rainbow Health Ontario
Great for: Anyone who wishes to learn about the unique shapes IPV can take in relationships among queer, trans and two-spirit (2S) people. An essential read for service providers who wish to practice inclusivity.

Becoming Ethical: A Parallel, Political Journey with Men Who Have Abused (Starting at $45)
By: Alan Jenkins
Great for: Therapists, counselors and others who work with men who have used violence, and are seeking a practical and comprehensive guide to the author’s paradigm-shifting invitational approach to IPV intervention.

Domestic Violence and Restorative Justice: Advancing the Dialogue (Free, PDF)
By: Alan Edwards & Jennifer Haslett
Great for: Service providers who work in or adjacent to domestic violence and/or restorative justice. Briefly outlines key factors in domestic violence cases that should be considered when applying restorative justice to these cases.

Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women (Starting at $37)
By: James Ptacek (Ed.)
Great for: Service providers, policymakers and others interested in exploring the intersections of restorative justice and violence against women in depth, with examples of processes and practices used in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Domestic violence e-library (Free)
By: Sh!ft: The project to end domestic violence
Great for: Service providers, policymakers and others who work in fields adjacent to the issue of domestic violence and would like to stay abreast of key research relating to primary violence prevention.

Restorative justice e-library (Free)
By: Restorative Justice for All
Great for: People who wish to learn more about the theory and practice of restorative justice through a searchable catalogue of multimedia resources.


Advocacy Groups:

It Starts With You
Online campaign by White Ribbon Canada, the Ontario Government and COPA to encourage men to model healthy and respectful relationships for the boys in their lives.

MANifest Change
Public awareness campaign encouraging men and boys to take a stand against gender-based violence.

Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin (I Am A Kind Man)
Engaging Indigenous men in working to end violence against women by drawing upon traditional community values and teachings.

Moosehide Campaign
Advocacy to inspire men to challenge violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Recommended Films:

The Mask You Live In

Private Violence

No Place the Hide: The Rehtaeh Parsons Story

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