Hot Docs 2015: Stay Awhile Review

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Stay Awhile gets its name from an early 70s hit song by Canadian pop group The Bells. The group achieved some  success worldwide, selling over 5 million records, and yet are today largely forgotten, even in their own country. That’s only one of the reasons that filmmaker Jessica Edwards has made this film, the other is for her and her siblings to gain a greater understanding of their parents, who were two of the group’s forming members.

There are a lot of things that are quintessentially Canadian about this story. Despite hitting the scene with a bang, touring the world and being the first Canadian pop group to get major radio play in the U.S., The Bells went out with a whimper. Ann Ralph (Jessica’s mother) quit the band to raise her family on a farm, and frontman Cliff Edwards (Jessica’s Dad) left the band a few years later to pursue a solo career without much success. The group all went their separate ways (including Jessica’s parents), but as we see from contemporary interviews still care for one another and remember the band’s years fondly. It’s all very quaint and nice for the most part, with band dynamics causing some but minimal drama.

Jessica inserts herself into the narrative by addressing her interview subjects as ‘mom’ and ‘dad’, and including scenes where she reminisces with her siblings about what it was like to be raised by musicians, often spending summers on the road. These parts are very reminiscent of Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell,  but a more lighthearted, humorous comparison I prefer to make with this film is to think of it like watching  A REAL Mighty Wind.

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Screens

Sun, May 3 3:45 PM @ Hart House Theatre

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