Sarah Polley, Leslie Feist back domestic abuse doc

Stories We Tell director Sarah Polley (pictured, left) and acclaimed musician Leslie Feist (right) have thrown their support behind a Canadian documentary examining men who abuse women.
November 13, 2014

Stories We Tell director Sarah Polley (pictured, left) and acclaimed musician Leslie Feist (right) have thrown their support behind a Canadian documentary examining men who abuse women.

Polley has signed on to exec produce A Better Man, a documentary being made by filmmaker Attiya Khan, which launched an Indiegogo campaign this week to raise CAD$75,000 for its first phase of production.

The project has so far raised more than $31,000 ahead of its December 20 deadline, with singer Feist having pledged to contribute $10,000 to the film.

Khan says she is making the film after having lived for two years with an abusive boyfriend who hurt her every day. Twenty years later, Khan says she bumped into her ex on a street corner and the experience inspired an idea of how to get answers to nagging questions about why he was violent to her, and how to get a film audience into the mind of a serial abuser.

“I’m tired of everyone focusing on women,” Khan told realscreen‘s sister publication Playback Daily. “Why is it always about why I stayed, why didn’t I ring the police? I want to shift the conversation to ‘why did he hit me?’”

The project arrives as the public debate about violence against women intensifies in Canada, spurred by a scandal involving accusations against Toronto radio personality Jian Ghomeshi, the former host of pubcaster the CBC’s flagship show Q.

“There are a lot of conversations happening and we need to continue to talk about it, because violence against women is common,” Khan said, “It’s our friends and people who are on the radio.”

The filmmaker, who is co-writing and directing A Better Man with Lawrence Jackman, knows the debate around domestic violence and workplace harassment is fraught with emotion, and people aren’t always willing to listen to abusers. But Khan insists it’s time to make sense of why men abuse women and hopes her film can help that cause.

“That’s what this film is about. We need to create a safe space for survivors to tell their stories, But it’s also to create safe spaces for abusers to talk about their experiences, and how they would prefer to be seen and heard,” she said.

“It’s not often that people can sit down and talk to the person they hurt, knowing that people are angry with him for what he did and don’t necessarily want to hear from him,” Khan said of her ex-boyfriend’s participation in the project.

A Better Man is being produced by Christine Kleckner.

  • From Playback Daily. With additional files by Adam Benzine
About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.