Docs

Westdoc digs into the mystery behind “Dead Man’s Switch”

Realscreen is partnering with filmmaker and executive producer Chuck Braverman and his Westdoc Online video series to bring his interviews with acclaimed documentarians and non-fiction content industry figures to its readership. In this episode, ...
May 11, 2021

Realscreen is partnering with filmmaker and executive producer Chuck Braverman and his Westdoc Online video series to bring his interviews with acclaimed documentarians and non-fiction content industry figures to its readership.

In this episode, Braverman talks to Canadian filmmaker Sheona McDonald (pictured), whose latest effort, Dead Man’s Switch – a crypto mystery, had its premiere at the recent virtual edition of the Hot Docs International Documentary Festival.

McDonald’s doc unravels the mystery of Canadian CEO Gerald Cotten and his cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX. In 2018 Cotten journeyed to India on his honeymoon with plans to open an orphanage. Nine days later, he was dead from Crohn’s disease, and $215 million in cash and cryptocurrency were suddenly missing. Cotton was the only person who had the keys to the currency leaving all his investors without their money.

On the Westdoc episode McDonald discusses her own investment in the cryptocurrency and how that made her more sympathetic to the subjects in her film, the challenges of verifying fact versus fiction in telling such a dynamic and outlandish story. She also admits that the big question — is Gerald Cotton still alive — will probably remain a mystery for the ages.

The Vancouver-based filmmaker also discusses her short doc Into Light, produced by the NFB, about a mother in Yellowknife who must navigate her child’s gender transition. To protect the identity and privacy of the mother and child, McDonald chose not to show any faces in the film, making for a unique approach to storytelling.

Both films made their world premieres at Hot Docs ’21.

For this and other episodes of Westdoc, visit the official site here.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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