Ontario Shores screening of ‘When Hope Breaks Through’ in Whitby already sold out


Published October 10, 2023 at 9:00 am

Mike Shoreman

The story of Whitby paddleboarder and mental health advocate Mike Shoreman has been creating a lot of buzz on the festival circuit since its debut in Toronto last month and will make its Durham Region debut with a special World Mental Health Day screening at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences tonight.

When Hope Breaks Through, a documentary by Michigan filmmaker Matthew Wagner on Shoreman’s epic crossings of all five Great Lakes on a paddleboard last year – the first person with a disability to do so – will be presented by Ontario Shores and its foundation at 6:30 p.m. at an event that is already sold out.

The film is the inspiring story of Shoreman, a former paddleboard coach who was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a rare and debilitating variation of shingles that affects the facial nerves, causing facial paralysis and hearing and balance problems and ultimately leading in Shoreman’s case – to depression and a mental health breakdown, including an attempt to take his own life.

Filmmaker Matthew Wagner

The film explores the mental health crisis in Canada and beyond, including our relationship with our own mental health, as it immerses the audience in Shoreman’s multi-lake crossings and the challenges he faced both leading up to and during that history-making summer of ’22.

The day will also include a Q & A session with Shoreman and TV personality and fellow mental health advocate Kevin Frankish and Shoreham is “excited” his friends and family will get a chance to see the film on their own turf.

“Ontario Shores Foundation does incredible work supporting those who need their programs and services,” Shoreman said. “It’s exciting that this will screen in my hometown with ticket sales benefitting this great organization on this important day.”

Shoreman was told he never walk again, much less paddleboard, after his symptoms – “I thought I had a stroke,” he remembered – were finally diagnosed.

Instead, he hatched a plan to get back on a board and paddle his way across Lake Ontario and in 2021 he put the plan in motion, only to be beaten by the weather and an unsympathetic lake on the third day of the voyage.

Undaunted, he vowed to try again. “This was the first but not the last attempt by a person with a disability to cross Lake Ontario,” he told reporters that day.

The next year, with a new plan, a team of trainers, nutritionists and a core group of supporters that grew as plan became reality, he took on a far more ambitious quest: paddle his board across ALL FIVE of the Great Lakes, a journey that served as a fundraiser (raising more than $100,000) for Jack.org, a youth-based group advocating for more financial support for mental health; the leading cause of suicide among young people.

The crossings were also documented by Wagner and videographer Joe Matteson, with much of the 42-minute movie centred on the people involved in the crossings and how they came together for a common cause.

The film debuted September 15 at the Jane Mallet Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, part of the Commffest Film & Art Festival and has been busy on the festival circuit since with stops at the Soo Film Festival in Sault Ste Marie, the Boston Film Festival, the Montreal Film Festival – where it has already won awards for Best Documentary and Best Soundtrack – and even down under, where it will be featured in Australia’s capital at the Canberra Mental Health Film Festival.

The documentary’s distribution rights have also been picked up by Canamedia Partners, who will be repping the film at the legendary Cannes Film Festival to network film buyers.

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