If there’s one message that activist filmmaker Mathew Embry wants to get across to parents, it’s this: watch how your kids use social media.
The father of two recently shut off the digital channels for his own tweens after an incident that came to light about a year after he released a documentary about Port Coquitlam’s Amanda Todd, who killed herself after being cyberbullied.
In his 49-minute production titled Dark Cloud, a Telus Originals documentary that is part of the 23rd annual Reel 2 Real Film Festival that runs April 14 to 23 from Vancouver, Embry interviews Todd’s mother, Carol, about her ongoing campaign to make people aware about the mental and physical toll that cyber-stalkers create, around the world.
In Amanda Todd’s case, her alleged abuser is from The Netherlands, and faces criminal charges in Canada; his next court appearance is April 12.
Talking with Carol Todd “really opened my eyes,” Embry told the Tri-City News. “As a parent, you have to be vigilant. You have to be checking their phones. We’ve stopped social media for our kids now. We’ve seen how hard it is to control, and we’ve experienced who quickly it can grow. There are strangers all over the world who could be contacting your kids. Who are these people?”
Embry, a Calgarian who produced the doc with Holly Dupej, said he learned about Amanda Todd’s death from news reports, and was interested in delving into a local story that made national and international headlines. He was able to spend time with Carol Todd in her PoCo home as well as at public events.
But while the subject matter is upsetting, Embry said he and Dupej wanted to make a film that was hopeful and offered solutions — just as Carol Todd does with her Amanda Todd Legacy Society in honour of her late daughter.
Meanwhile, the virtual Reel 2 Real Festival also includes five short films by Tri-City high school students, in the Youth Filmmakers Showcase. They are:
• Fluffie by Tsai-Ni Lin of Gleneagle secondary
• Entropy by Theo Turner and Evan Turner of Riverside secondary
• Problems by Sydney Ilaender, Radek Koci, Shaun Ganzeveld, Annabelle Hunter and Phoenix London of Riverside secondary
• Journey of Dance by Jessica Quian of Gleneagle secondary
• And I Yearn: An Experimental Film about 2020 by Yunmin Lee of Gleneagle secondary
To view the movies in the Real to Reel Film Festival, visit r2rfestival.org for public or school online passes.