Film Reviews

Review: ‘Michael Shannon Michael Shannon John’

Hot Docs 2016

Courtesy of Hot Docs


Michael Shannon Michael Shannon John
(Canada, 80 min.)
Dir. Chelsea McMullan
Programme: Nightvisions (Toronto Premiere)

How would you feel if you received a Facebook friend request from yourself? Ask Shannon Hanmer, a Canadian who received a Facebook friend request from another Shannon Hanmer. However, this Shannon Hanmer was from Thailand. This is where the quest begins. Shannon the Canadian soon discovers that Shannon the Thai has a brother with the same name as hers: Michael Hanmer. The Canadian siblings travel to Thailand to meet Shannon and Michael, their newly discovered half siblings who share the same father, John Hanmer.

It keeps getting weirder as Michael, Shannon, Michael, and Shannon come to learn more about the respective alternate sides of their father. Over the course of the film, we begin to piece together the bizarre and tragic saga of John Hanmer, who left his wife and two kids, escaping to Thailand. There, he married again, had two more kids whom he left as well, fleeing to the Philippines where he eventually met his violent death by assault rifle.

The second film from Toronto-based director Chelsea McMullan is one of most original and off-the-cuff of the festival. McMullan’s film isn’t fancy: there’s no trendy animation or re-enactments. With some well-used archival footage and an ominous soundtrack from Polaris and Juno-nominated artist Alaska B, McMullan has created an ambitious, spooky tale of “reality” interrelated across three very different countries.

Michael Shannon Michael Shannon John screens:
-Saturday, April 30 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 1:15 PM
-Sautrday, May 7 at Hart House at 9:45 PM

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit www.hotdocs.ca for more