Saturday, June 22, 2024
June 22, 2024

Physician, Heal Thyself next Best of the Fests film

By STEVE MARTINDALE

FOR SS FILM FESTIVAL SOCIETY

Fans of Dr. Gabor Maté won’t want to miss the Salt Spring Film Festival’s one-night-only screening of the award-winning film at ArtSpring on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Vancouver filmmaker Asher Penn will be on Salt Spring next Wednesday, Jan. 24 to present his engaging documentary on the world-renowned expert on trauma and addiction — Dr. Gabor Maté — which made its world premiere and won an audience favourite award at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October. The event begins at 7:30 p.m.

While all advance tickets to Physician, Heal Thyself have sold already, a final 30 were released on Wednesday and some of those were still available through the ArtSpring website as of Friday, Jan. 19.

Both a medical doctor and a bestselling author, Maté is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on trauma, addiction and mental health, widely admired as the author of such bestsellers as In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction; The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture; and When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress.

In this searingly honest review of his life’s work, Maté shares not only his professional theories but also his personal story: his difficult upbringing in a Jewish family in post-war Hungary, his experience as a student journalist for The Ubyssey, his early reputation as an infuriating contrarian, and his work with marginalized communities in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The founder and editor of Vancouver’s online Sex Magazine, Asher Penn decided to make a documentary about Maté after reading his books and looking for insights while battling his own addictions.

Penn found Maté to be “a charismatic, tortured soul [who] pulled from a diaspora of ideas far outside the lexicon of any doctor I had ever encountered. He seemed more like an artist. I kept asking myself ‘Who is this person? How did he come to be?’” Fortunately for the rest of us, the answers to Penn’s questions are to be found in his award-winning directorial début.

Although primarily comprising Maté’s own reminiscences on his life and work, this surprisingly compelling film is almost hypnotic in its ability to draw the audience in and hold the viewer’s attention. Candidly discussing his own struggles with addictive behaviours, ADHD and fractured relationships — and encouraging us to own our failings, accept our imperfections and prioritize our mental health — Maté admits: “Part of the problem was that I believed in everybody’s healing but my own.”

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