Drawing from Life

31 minutes 6.6/10 based on 22 votes

Drawing From Life is a 30 minute documentary about a group of people who have all attempted suicide on multiple occasions. Their desire for life is fragile and their appetite  for death is strong. This is the type of story that needs to be told.

Drawing From Life focuses on a single group therapy workshop and mixes real-life footage with powerful animation. The film follows twelve people as they meet over the span of half a year. They talk about their desires, their fears, and try to make sense of it all. This isn’t a sugar coated portrayal of suicide. They aren’t all happy endings. The resounding message here is: “it’s okay to cry.”

We have become so used to ‘reality’ shows such as the Jersey Shore and mockumentary comedies such as “The Office” that our 21st century minds might not fully understand how brave it must have been for these people to allow cameras to track their progress or their descent. This is an emotionally thunderous documentary.

It cuts right to the core of what it means to to be on that edge, the challenges that people face and how they can work to overcome them and embrace life over death.

The film uses an interesting mix of cinema vérité-style shooting and simple animation that helps illustrate the thoughts and feelings of the group’s participants. I can’t even imagine letting cameras in to such an intimate exchange of thoughts, ideas and fears. And what’s more, the film isn’t even depressing, as you might think it would be. It’s sad, but there’s this uplifting message throughout about what it means to be alive. Kudos to filmmaker Kat Cizek for creating such an important and visceral documentary.

Drawing From Life comes highly recommended. If you only have 30 minutes to spare, want to see a great documentary, and come away from it a stronger, wiser, more empathetic person then this is for you.

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Discuss This Documentary

  • gabriel

    last 9 minutes unavailable :( caged bird appears 2/3 of the way through and says “sorry this film is not available”

    • DocumentaryStorm.com

      Hi Gabriel,
      The video is working great.

      If you are seeing caged birds that are telling you it’s not available, I think that you should call the pet control. What are caged birds doing in your computer?

      Seriously, if someone else could confirm that it’s working that would be helpful.

      – Benjy

      • B

        works fine for me – interesting documentary

      • Keira

         Hi Benjy – The video worked fine for me and I watched the entire program with no problems.

        As for my review of the documentary itself, it’s okay and worth watching, but not great…  I empathise with the people on it, but I didn’t really get much out of it.  It’s just random people vaguely talking about suicide in group therapy, with no clear timeline… I didn’t really get a sense of who they were, why they were depressed, or even how they really felt (aside from vague snippits of conversation), and although they do talk about their strategies for coping, they didn’t really go into what those strategies were.  If they included the strategies (as well as how each person felt and responded to the suggested actions), it would be more helpful to other viewers who were themselves feeling suicidal.

        In general, I think it could also have been improved by focusing more on one or two of the people there, or by
        being longer so that you connect more with the characters depicted and
        get more of a sense of what their stories are.  I would also have liked the timeline to be noted, so that you can see how they have progressed during their treatment.

        •  Hi Keira,
          Thank you for confirming and great review!

  • Rebecca

    Beautiful, thanks!! I am going to show this to my friend who has been feeling down, lately. I think it can help.

  • James

    I can never get the NFB player videos to work properly. They don’t load at all or so slow I could write out the 1’s and 0’s faster than they download. When you do finally get the darn thing the sound either doesn’t work or the video stays frozen while the audio plays. I won’t bother with videos hosted there.

    • DocumentaryStorm.com

      Hi James,
      Sorry to hear that. Is anyone else able to watch or not watch the film?

      • James

        Hey, no worries. Not your fault. Some hosts just don’t work for some people I guess. Technology can be a finicky beast. :P Like I said tho, I never seems to matter what computer I’m on the Nation Film Board player videos never work. I know it’s not a codec problem on my end…just doesn’t work properly.

  • James

    Okay, I tried it on my new iPad and it works fine on it. Seems to be a problem limited to my PC’s.

  • Sarah

    Hi..not working on iPad. Screen is blank. Cheers for all the fantastic documentaries! Sarah

    • DocumentaryStorm.com

      Hi!
      Oh well, looks like the National Film Board of Canada isn’t iPad savvy yet. I recommend going on your laptop, if you can, because it’s a great documentary.

      I try to find documentaries that are compatible for EVERYONE but with so many different countries, computers, and browsers they don’t all work for everyone – just like youtube clips are often restricted by country.
      Thanks for letting me know.
      -Benjy

  • Leerwesen

    I really didn’t like the therapist, especially her interaction with the hard of hearing person. The concept of this sort of group is a good one, but I think it would be better with another facilitator.

  • Cali

    I really, really enjoyed this documentary. Although one of the therapists was harsh at times, it seems like she was really effective in getting through to the group members.
    I hope all these people are doing well, and continue to heal themselves. Everyone deserves to be happy.

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