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‘I’ll always err on the side of beauty’ – a mother’s cinematic ode to her son

In 2007, the Canadian filmmaker Kelly O’Brien’s second child, Teddy, was born with extensive brain damage. The impact on his physical and developmental abilities was severe, and it profoundly affected his mother’s life too, who left her career as a television producer to become Teddy’s full-time caretaker. During this time, she began creating short, intimate documentaries centred around her family, including My Brother, Teddy (2014) – an impressionistic portrait of her daughter Emma’s love for her brother, shot on black-and-white 16-millimetre film, and textured with nostalgia and cinematic artistry.

Intermingling new vignettes of Emma dancing with Teddy with similar footage from her earlier film, O’Brien’s short All the Beauty in the World is a continuation of her tender tribute to the enduring connection between her children. While narrating over these joyful moments, past and present, she recalls one viewer’s comment that My Brother, Teddy was ‘far too beautiful’ a depiction of the reality of living with disability. Responding to those words, O’Brien affirms her decision to continue portraying the beauty in her family life. The resulting short is an eloquent meditation on parental love, disability and representation, with a depth and resonance that seems to transcend its brief duration. O’Brien created All the Beauty in the World for this year’s Dream Serenade, an annual benefit concert in Toronto ‘to celebrate and support children with exceptionalities and their caregivers’.

Director: Kelly O’Brien

Music: Sergio Díaz de Rojas