Breast Fest 2014: Valleys

Director: Aaron Bryant
Cast: Amy Aubin, Anne Knowles, John Aubin
Runtime: 60 min

The strength of one individual can have the power to inspire many. Aaron Bryant’s documentary Valleys (2013) tells the incredible story of Amy Aubin in a simple and straightforward manner. A two-time cancer survivor, Amy decides to take a white water rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with her best friend Anne and a group of others affected by cancer. The amazing experience was documented in a web series through a series of brief episodes that have now been compiled into a full work and posted on YouTube for the world to share.

Valleys applies a fresh approach to the topic of cancer by presenting the stories and points of view of many people who were affected by Amy’s sickness. Revealing interviews with Amy’s highly supportive parents, husband, daughter, and best friend show several different perspectives. Ultimately, however, this story belongs to Amy, and the camera frequently focuses on this positive, fun, and highly relatable young woman as she explains her story and feelings in honest interviews and lives her incredible rafting experience. Simple camera shots reveal both the breathtaking beauty of the scenery around them as well as a range of emotions as individuals share their thoughts, fears, and doubts. The accompanying background music alters from gentle piano pieces to upbeat and quirky songs to reflect the tone of each scene, and works effectively to mould an emotional experience.

The strength of Amy Aubin is nothing short of inspirational, and I as a viewer felt privileged to be allotted the opportunity to share in her experience as she tackled the challenge of the Grand Canyon, as well as the struggles of her everyday life. Valleys is clear, however, that Amy is simply an everyday person dealing with an awful situation in the best way that she can. Every person afflicted with cancer has a story like this one, but not all are willing to share it in such an intimate manner. The different perspectives on the struggle with cancer are also highly valuable, as Amy’s life has had an impact on countless others who also have stories to tell. Here is a piece of film that is certainly scary and sad but is simultaneously uplifting, and tells a moving and motivating story that many can appreciate.

Watch Valleys at 10:30am on March 30, 2014, at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. For details, click HERE.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion – “The Power of Stories in Cancer Care” – with individuals from the film:

  1. Amy McDougall-Aubin (Cancer Survivor, subject of the film)
  2. Mike Lang (Producer and Cancer Survivor)
  3. Annie Knowles (Amy’s best friend & supporter in film)