Canadian film-maker Laura Marie Wayne’s documentary Love, Scott comes to Ottawa on Saturday, November 10 at 4:45pm at the National Gallery of Canada as part of this year’s Inside Out Film Festival. Scott Jones, an openly gay musician and choir director, was brutally attacked outside a club in Pictou County, Nova Scotia by a man whom Scott believes purposefully targeted him because of his sexual orientation. Scott clearly remembers the homophobic gaze the man directed at him just hours before the incident. Yet the legal system did not deem the violent act as a hate crime. Left paralyzed from the waist down, Scott’s journey three years after the incident—beautifully documented by Wayne who is a personal friend of his—is full of resilience and hope.
But this film escapes the cliché of burdening us with a false sense that everything is okay or that there’s nothing but light at the end of this tragic tunnel. Scott is scarred for life by the incident and understandably full of anger, pain and unresolved grief. Although his family and small town community have stood by him in heart-warming and tear-jerking ways, the documentary compels us to consider the implications of (rural) homophobia and the Canadian legal system’s failure to acknowledge the root causes of Scott’s brutal attack.
If the documentary begins with a quote by Rumi: “the wound is the place where light enters you,” it ends with statistical information about hate crime based on sexual orientation in Canada. And the facts are chilling:
- In 1996, the Criminal Code of Canada was amended to recognize hate crimes based on sexual orientation;
- Of the thousands of hate crimes reported by LGBTQ people since then, a judge has acknowledged motivation based on sexual orientation in only 10 cases;
- 2 out of 3 hate crimes are unreported; and
- To date, violence against the LGBTQ community is the most severe of all hate crimes in Canada.
At the level of form, the documentary echoes the disorientation, isolation and fragmentation that follow hate crimes. Wayne has created a lyrical, slow paced narrative that shows us what it’s like to experience life from an outsider perspective, with scenes filmed from unexpected angles, blurring and confusing what is visible; fragmented flashbacks cut across linear narrative the way physical and mental shocks do. Scott hasn’t just lost the ability to move his legs for life—his inner turmoil is also clearly shown, with the ups and downs, painful and sometimes serene in-betweens of living life with and through trauma. A tender and soulful man, audiences will surely empathise with Scott whose pain, although clearly shown, doesn’t position him as a victim without agency.
On the contrary, his resiliency and the love shown by his family and community are truly remarkable. On the receiving end of so much injustice, Scott manages to inspire others and flourish nonetheless, and I think this documentary is a testament to his strength and the love, empathy and solidarity people feel for him.
The Inside Out Festival takes place November 9-12, with screenings at the National Gallery of Canada and other events around town. For all of Apt613’s coverage of the Inside Out festival, visit our Festival page here. Visit the Inside Out webpage for full schedule, trailers, and tickets.