Film Review: Swift Current at Rendezvous with Madness Film Fest

09 November 2015 / by Mikayla Fasullo (author)
 (photo: Swift Current documentary, via Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival)
/ (photo: Swift Current documentary, via Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival)

Joshua Rofés' film Swift Current exposes former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy's journey from a hockey star with a dark secret, to outspoken advocate for victims of sexual abuse. This emotionally arresting film commands attention to a subject that few wish to acknowledge. 

Kennedy and his brother were young when they began playing hockey, and fell in love with the sport. When they began playing for the Swift Current Broncos they were scouted by coach Graham James. What seemed to be a dream come true became Kennedy's worst nightmare. For years he kept secret the sexual and physical abuse that he endured from James. Kennedy got married and had a daughter, but he was always holding something back from his family. 

Later in his career, Kennedy couldn't keep quiet any longer. He feared the shame of coming out as a victim of sexual abuse, but instead was lauded on newspaper front pages for speaking out. He visited universities to speak about his experience. Through this he met two students, sexual assault victims themselves, whose stories are also shared in the film. 

Kennedy makes it clear that what happened to them isn't normal, and that they will never be normal. But he also explains that he is getting stronger everyday because of what has happened to him, and that whoever is a victim of sexual assault is not at all guilty for what happened to them. Kennedy traveled across Canada to raise awareness for sexual assault. He started the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, and has received multiple awards including the Order of Canada.

Kennedy still had issues of his own. The memories never faded. He turned to alcohol and drugs and later got a DUI which put him on the front pages again. After attending rehab Kennedy sobered up and focused on his vision, continuing to encourage victims to share their story and get people talking.

Swift Current has exposes how sexual assault is carried throughout peoples' lives, and how Sheldon Kennedy turned his narrative on it's head. The premiere of Swift Current at the Rendezvous with Madness film festival represents the festival for exactly what it stands for- talking about issues people tend not to talk about. 

The author

Mikayla Fasullo

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