Leave them Laughing wins Special Jury Award at Hot Docs

Leave them Laughing Trailer

LEAVE THEM LAUGHING won the Special Jury Award, Canadian Documentary, and came in 5th out of 172 films in terms of audience favorites as voted upon by a record 136,000 festival attendees. We are most pleased! Two standing ovations, lots of applause and great reviews all over the press…..and the film isn’t even done yet. We still need some final editing, color correction, proper sound mixing and a few other things, which, due to lack of funding we have not been able to do just yet. Offers for financial assistance have come in as a result of our performance at Hot Docs, so we should have LEAVE THEM LAUGHING in tip top shape very soon.

Invitations from film festival from around the world have been pouring in and we are excited at the opportunity of sending our “laugh-out-loud” documentary about dying out into the world. LEAVE THEM LAUGHING is certainly meant to entertain the audience and it does, but even more importantly, we are hoping to raise awarenss for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in potentially a huge way, so a cure for this lousy disease can finally be found.

As expressed in the endorsement of the ALS Society of Ontario, LEAVE THEM LAUGHING is exactly what ALS needs. Here is what the society said about our film:

“The magic of Leave Them Laughing is not only in the story itself but in the way it is told. Living with ALS is often times a topic mainstream media hesitate to touch – it’s too depressing is the common reply. Usually that statement is true, unless you find those with a spirit to outshine their situation.

This is the case with Carla Zilbersmith, who is documented in Leave Them Laughing as she lives with the final stages of ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS Ontario is proud to be a sponsor of this film at the Hot Docs Film Festival.

This disease, as you know, progressively takes your body from you, usually piece by piece, leaving your mind aware and functioning.

Carla’s mind is as ever sharp and on display in a pre-mortem that ends up making you laugh repeatedly and harder than you would cry. This film is an inspirational message about one woman’s battle with ALS and how she will not let it conquer her spirit.

I see this often in my work with ALS Ontario, but never has it been displayed in such a humorous story, yet never diminishing the devastating effects of the disease.

I was at both screenings of the film in the Toronto Hot Docs festival, offering brochures to audience members who likely have never seen the first-hand effects of this illness. But audience members displayed the effects of this inspirational documentary – they were thrilled with the film, moved, touched and motivated. Many spoke to me after the film and you could see how the movie stirred them – I was thrilled with the immediate response.

One audience member has been motivated to host a private screening of the film, incorporating a fundraising portion into the event, in the near future. This is an important way to spread awareness and raise funds for the cause and encourage other associations, who may not be able to donate directly to the film, to follow a similar concept.

I had to thank the director personally as his story in Leave Them Laughing is just what the general public needs. It’s what ALS, to improve its awareness, needs.

However, the film is not finished due to lack of funding (one audience member remarked how much she loved it, but sadly could not hear all the jokes due to poor sound quality) and it needs to be at the fully developed and professional stage it, and Carla, deserves.

Please help this film become as stellar as it can be. This film deserves it. Those living with ALS, and all touched by its far-reaching fingers, need it.”

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