Global interview – How music can heal

Claire was interviewed this morning on Montreal Global.

In the Key of Claire is a documentary that tells the story of Claire Duchesneau, a social worker at the HIV clinic of the McGill University Health Centre. Claire is a talented amateur musician who uses music to transcend both her own challenges and those of her patients, HIV-positive refugees from African… Watch the video>>

Montreal Gazette – A lyrical documentary on music and healing

The Montreal Gazette published an article about In the Key of Claire on July 28th. The article by Susan Schwartz is reprinted here with thanks.

MONTREAL — In the Key of Claire, a lyrical documentary on music and healing, will have its world première Tuesday, July 29 at the Rialto Theatre.

The film tells the story of Montreal social worker Claire Duchesneau, a talented amateur musician who uses music to transcend challenges facing her and facing her patients, all of whom are HIV-positive and most of whom came to Canada from African war zones including Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo as asylum seekers.

Montreal director Anne Henderson has created a moving film that, among other things, gives voice to two groups not often represented in movies: older women and female refugees.

Duchesneau, 62, had gradually lost her hearing until she became profoundly deaf and needed hearing aids. But music has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember, and “to put down my music is to put down a part of who I am,” as she says at one point in the 52-minute documentary.

She reached out to Barbara Lewis, a voice coach and a hugely talented singer in her own right, to ask if she would teach someone who wore hearing aids. Lewis said she would.

Lewis and Henderson met in 2009, at a Christmas party at the home of a mutual friend. When Henderson said she was looking for a film project, Lewis told her about Duchesneau, “an older voice student with hearing aids.” The following year, back at the same party, Henderson asked about Duchesneau. “Next thing I knew, Anne was sitting in my office at the hospital,” recalled Duchesneau, who works at the Montreal Chest Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.

Music would help her through a cancer diagnosis in 2010 and through a gruelling course of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Fearing that the chemo would worsen her hearing further, she recorded an album before starting the treatment.

Once she recovered and felt well enough, she gave a concert in late 2011 to celebrate her 60th birthday. She performed to a full house at the Montreal jazz bar Upstairs, together with Lewis.

Music “is a thread in my life that helps me deal with the sad stories I hear day in and day out,” Duchesneau said in an interview in an MUHC newsletter this year.

“You can be terribly vulnerable and still strong as hell … and I think I learned that from my patients,” as Duchesneau, who has been in remission for four years from cancer of the anal canal, observes in the film.

She credits those patients with helping her to find her voice. “I don’t think it’s just a solo journey,” she says in the film. “My African women make me taller. … These women can find their voices. We hear their voices, their courage.”

Duchesneau helped a group of African women followed at her clinic to record an album of their own in 2013. Then in April, she travelled to Rwanda to participate in the national commemoration of the 1994 genocide.

Most Montrealers know nothing about asylum seekers who have been victims of war crimes and whose status in Canada remains uncertain, said Henderson. Duchesneau and some of her colleagues observe in the film that the government has, to some degree, demonized refugees as “queue jumpers, liars and cheaters.”

In the Key of Claire is co-produced by Henderson and Robbie Hart, who produced the multiple Gemini award-winning documentary I Am Not a Rock Star.

For three and a half of the four years it took to make In the Key of Claire, it had no funding. Ultimately, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec provided a $20,000 grant and the CBC and Toronto-based IChannel bought broadcast licences, but the film is still not fully financed.

Part of the challenge, Henderson explained, lay in convincing broadcasters that a story about an older woman — a social worker who wears hearing aids — could interest an audience. “Most commissioning editors shied away from the subject matter,” she said.

“I feel that older women are virtually absent from the mainstream media, except for quirky character roles or dysfunctional mothers-in-law. But I am surrounded by older women who live rich and fascinating lives, who are repositories of stories that need to be told.”

In the Key of Claire is screened Tuesday, July 29 at 7 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre, 5723 Parc Ave. A Q&A with director Anne Henderson and some of the film’s subjects will follow. Tickets cost $10, and are available at the door or via eventbrite.ca. CBC will air the film Saturday, Aug. 2 at 7 p.m.; to accommodate commercials, only 45 minutes of the film’s 52 minutes will be shown.

MCI social worker stars in a documentary about music and healing

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This article appeared in the McGill University Health Centre’s internal web site. The article is reprinted here with thanks.

In the Key of Claire, a film by Anne Henderson – To premiere July 29 at the Rialto Theatre
We first introduced this inspiring and inspired woman to you in February. Claire Duchesneau has been a McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) social worker at the Montreal Chest Institute, for 27 years specializing in HIV/AIDS. Born into a musical family, she started singing at a very young age and never stopped, despite later suffering from significant hearing loss. It is this combination, and her tireless and compassionate work with HIV-positive refugees that has made her the main subject of a documentary on music and healing.

It only takes listening to Duchesneau for a few minutes to figure how dedicated she is to her patients, many of whom come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, where they have experienced atrocities and lost relatives. Over time, her patients have become a source of inspiration to her. “Many of these patients are very vulnerable,” she says, “but they are also models of resilience for me.”

Four years ago, Duchesneau was diagnosed with cancer. She feared that chemotherapy would affect her hearing more, so she recorded an album. “Music has helped me through my cancer,” says Duchesneau. “It is a thread in my life that helps me deal with the sad stories I hear day in and day out.” Wishing to offer music as a gift to her patients, she helped a group of African women followed at her clinic to record an album of their own.

After 17 years supporting these patients, listening to their stories and learning about the wars that have marked their lives, Duchesneau feels she and her colleagues are now part of their history. “We lived it through their eyes and hearts,” she says. Nevertheless, there are still many things that are beyond her understanding. “Their stories are so far from our reality that sometimes it is impossible to imagine what they are going through or have gone through.”

On July 29, the Rialto Theatre will present Duchesneau’s film premiere “In the Key of Claire: A Story of Music and Healing.” The film will be followed by a Q & A with the director, Anne Henderson, and film subjects.

This documentary premiere is open to everyone who is interested.

The documentary will be presented in English only.

Where? Rialto Theatre. 5723 Avenue du Parc, Montreal, H2S 4G9
When? Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
How? You can purchase your tickets ($10 each) online.

Location: Rialto Theatre, 5723 du Parc, Montreal
Date: Jul 29, 2014 – 7:00 pm
MUHC News

Rialto premiere July 29th

In The Key of Claire Poster

In the Key of Claire is a documentary about music and healing. It will be launched at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday July 29, at 7 pm.

The film tells the story of Claire Duchesneau, a social worker at the HIV clinic of the McGill University Health Centre in Montréal. Claire is a talented amateur musician who uses music to transcend both her own challenges, and those of her patients, HIV positive refugees from Rwanda and elsewhere.

The film will be followed by a Q & A with director Anne Henderson and the film subjects. A shorter version will be broadcast on CBC television later this summer.

You can purchase $10 tickets online here.

Street parking available.
Du Parc Métro-80 Bus South or Park Avenue Métro and the 80 Bus North
5723 Avenue du Parc Montreal, QC H2V 4G9

 

Interview – Health care and refugees

Sue Smith from CBC Radio One dropped by the Montreal Chest Institute after a ruling  by Justice Anne Mactavish of the Federal Court in Ottawa, struck down Conservative government’s two-year-old policy of denying health care to certain classes of failed refugee claimants. Claire walked the journalist through the impact of the government’s decision to withdraw health care provisions to these people. Listen to the interview here.

CBC Radio One's Home Run in Montreal

CBC Radio One’s Home Run in Montreal

Claire and Erin

Claire and Erin. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Claire and Erin departing for Rwanda. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Claire and Erin, off to Africa. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Claire and Erin departing for Rwanda.  In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Filming a Fundraiser at the Montreal General Hospital

In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Barbara Lewis warms up for a fundraiser St Valentine's Day fundraiser at the Montreal General. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Barbara Lewis warms up for a fundraiser St Valentine’s Day fundraiser at the Montreal General. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Claire provides instructions to musicians at a fundraising show at the Montreal General Hospital. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Claire provides instructions to musicians at a fundraising show at the Montreal General Hospital. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Claire and Barbara Lewis entertain a crowd at the Montreal General on St Valentine’s Day. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Claire provides instructions to musicians at a fundraiser at the Montreal General Hospital. Her daughter, Erin, looks on. In the Key of Claire, Directed by Anne Henderson, © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Claire provides instructions to a pianist while her daughter Erin looks on. Montreal General Hospital Fundraiser, February 14, 2014. In the Key of Claire,  © 2014 Arcady Productions.

Contact the producers for higher resolution versions of these images.

Resources

Rwanda

  • Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda — When Roméo Dallaire was called on to serve as force commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, he believed that his assignment was to help two warring parties achieve the peace they both wanted. Instead, he was exposed to the most barbarous and chaotic display of civil war and genocide in recent memory. | Amazon | Chapters-Indigo
  • The Antelope Strategy — One hot May morning in 2003, a crowd of Hutus who had participated in the genocidal killings of April 1994 in Rwanda filed out of prison and into the sunshine, singing hallelujahs, their freedom granted by presidential pardon. As they returned to their old villages, Tutsi survivors watched as the people who had killed their neighbors and families returned to the homes around them. In The Antelope’s Strategy, Jean Hatzfeld returns to Rwanda to talk with both Hutus and Tutsis struggling to live side by side. | Amazon | Chapters-Indigo
  • Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak — During the spring of 1994, in a tiny country called Rwanda, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors in a gruesome civil war. Several years later, journalist Jean Hatzfeld traveled to Rwanda to interview ten participants in the killings, eliciting extraordinary testimony from these men about the genocide they perpetrated. As Susan Sontag wrote in the preface, Machete Season is a document that “everyone should read . . . [because making] the effort to understand what happened in Rwanda . . . is part of being a moral adult.”  | AmazonChapters-Indigo

 

International Affairs 

  • The International Arms Trade — The multi-billion dollar business of the international conventional arms trade involves virtually every country in the world. Around the globe, people’s lives are being irrevocably changed by the effects of guns, tanks, and missiles. These weapons have the potential to cause a deadly and current threat – one responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year. This succinct and accessible new book explores the complexities and realities of the global conventional weapons trade.  | AmazonChapters-Indigo
  • Making and Marketing Arms: The French Experience and Its Implications for the International System – France ranks as the world’s third largest arms exporter and supplies arms and military technology to over a hundred countries. This book exposes the compelling aims and interests–national independence, security, economic welfare, foreign influence, grandeur–that explain the nation’s successes in arms production and transfers. Originally published in 1987.| Amazon | Chapters-Indigo

 

Hearing Impairment

  •  The Canadian Hearing Society – The barriers faced by people with hearing loss take a devastating toll on spirit, determination, and mental health. Your donation eliminates those barriers. Learn more.

 

Anal Canal Cancer

  • The Canadian Cancer Society — The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. Learn More.

 

Films

  • Kinyarwanda — A young Tutsi woman and a young Hutu man fall in love amidst chaos.
  • Shake Hands with the Devil — Based upon General Romeo Dallaire’s account of the his command of the UN mission in Rwanda of the time of the massacre.
  • Shooting Dogs — John Hurt stars in this fictionalized account of the priests working at a school compound at the eve of the massacre.
  • Hotel Rwanda Trailer — Based upon actual events, Don Cheadle portrays a hotelier who tries protecting his fellow citizens during the 100-day slaughter.