TELUS originals presents Physician, Heal Thyself and Union Street at Vancouver International Film Festival

Both films’ world premieres at VIFF explore themes and people that are integral to the history of Vancouver communities

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- TELUS originals announces the world premieres of two highly anticipated films, Physician, Heal Thyself and Union Street, at the 42nd edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). As part of an ongoing commitment to support and showcase exceptional Canadian talent, TELUS originals is proud to present these locally-produced and thought-provoking cinematic works that explore themes and people that are integral to the history of Vancouver communities.

“TELUS originals works hard to support films that reflect the experiences of communities across Canada,” says Cameron Zinger, Director, TELUS Local Content. “Both Physician, Heal Thyself and Union Street do this incredibly well, while also pushing audiences to reflect on the complexities of people and history alike. We’re so pleased to introduce these two films and share them with the attendees of VIFF.”

Physician, Heal Thyself: This film offers a searingly intimate portrait of the celebrated expert on addiction, stress, and trauma, Dr. Gabor Maté. The documentary follows Dr. Maté’s life’s journey, from his start as a young contrarian to a contemporary icon who still struggles to manage his own painful past and complicated behaviors. After growing up in Europe during the Holocaust, Dr. Maté immigrated to Vancouver post-war and has lived in Vancouver for most of his life. He has introduced many important works of literature into the ongoing discussions around addiction, stress, ADHD and trauma. Physician, Heal Thyself will premiere on October 5, 6 p.m. at SFU Woodwards, with a second screening on October 6, 3:30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre. More information can be found here.

"Like a lot of people, I discovered Gabor Maté’s work while confronting my own addictions,” shares Director Asher Penn. “Three months sober and desperate for insight I stumbled across his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, the only title I could find that addressed addiction, its cause and treatment holistically. A charismatic, tortured soul, he pulled from a diaspora of ideas far outside the lexicon of any doctor I had ever encountered. He seemed more like an artist. I kept asking myself, ‘Who is this person? How did he come to be?’ What began with a 2-day studio interview to answer this question has now manifested into Physician, Heal Thyself - none of which could have happened without the hard work of an amazing team and the support of TELUS originals."

Executive Producer, Shannon Walsh says, “The film is a fascinating look behind the curtain of this celebrated writer and speaker, which reveals a complicated, and often conflicted, man whom I think we can all relate to. We are incredibly grateful for the continued and fundamental support provided by TELUS originals in getting this project to screen!”

Union Street: Spanning across three generations, Union Street chronicles the ongoing effects of racism, displacement and the cultural erasure of African Canadians, while examining the systemic mechanisms that destroyed Vancouver’s historic Black community in the ‘60s. Train porters, speakeasies, juke joints and a thriving community all existed in the Black neighbourhood; and so did musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. The reverberations of this thriving community are still felt, and in the face of adversity a new generation of Black Vancouverites work to rebuild, facilitate Black joy and redefine what it means to be African-Canadian. Union Street, expertly directed by Jamila Pomeroy, has its world premiere on October 2, 8:45 p.m. at SFU Woodwards, with a second screening on October 7, 3:30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre. More information can be found here.

"Growing up in the suburbs of Vancouver as the only Black family in our neighbourhood, I found myself asking where all the Black people were, and why my family was treated differently,” says Jamila Pomeroy, Union Street director. “I learned about Hogan's Alley and the atrocities that happened in Black Strathcona, in 2008, and the history really stuck with me. When I moved to Vancouver as a teen I realized that my experience wasn't isolated and that so many African Canadians were experiencing the symptoms of cultural erasure and displacement. Connecting the past with the present, Union Street showcases the ongoing effects of systemic racism in Canada, while highlighting an ensemble of Black Vancouverites that, in the face of adversity, are rebuilding the historic Black community that was destroyed.”

TELUS originals is screening an additional film, Aitamaako'tamisskapi Natosi Before the Sun, which is a multi award-winning documentary that provides an intimate and thrilling portrait of a young Siksika woman named Logan Red Crow and the deep bonds between her father and family in the golden plains of Blackfoot Territory as she prepares for one of the most dangerous horse races in the world… the Indian Relay. PR for this film will be coordinated through Pender PR.

About Asher Penn, Director of Physician, Heal Thyself and Shannon Walsh, Executive Producer of Physician, Heal Thyself

Over the past 15 years, Asher Penn has conducted, edited and published over 150 interviews with cultural figures ranging from William Gibson to Grimes. He is the producer of the experimental documentary Maggie Lee’s Mommy. Physician, Heal Thyself is his first feature film.

Shannon Walsh is a filmmaker whose work covers topics ranging from labour rights, to grief and climate change. Shannon’s most recent film, The Gig is Up (2021) was hailed by Variety for being “galvanizing and moving” and The Hollywood Reporter called it “a devastating reality check”. Her films have been theatrically released and broadcast globally, as well as screening in festivals around the world. Walsh’s forthcoming book, The Documentary Filmmaker’s Intuition, will be out in 2023. A Guggenheim Fellow, she was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Art in 2023. Walsh teaches film production at UBC.

About Jamila Pomeroy, Director of Union Street

Jamila Pomeroy is a Kenyan-Canadian WGC screenwriter and internationally-published writer with experience spanning print, new media and film. She also works as a director, producer and actor. Her work across all mediums is known to be impact-driven, with immersive worlds that unpack contemporary social issues. Specifically, her work often champions historically underrepresented people and narratives, while generating both accessible, comedic and intellectually-charged storylines.

About TELUS originals
TELUS originals support the production of compelling, locally reflective, social-purpose documentaries and documentary series that connect established, independent filmmakers in B.C. and Alberta from diverse identities and communities to local and global audiences. TELUS original films are available on TELUS Optik TV channel 8, at and in film festivals globally.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Sydney Boll, NATIONAL Public Relations
(403) 479-8796