A riveting meditation on resilience in the face of disaster, Illusions of Control unfolds in landscapes irrevocably shaped by human attempts to dominate them.

Five women confront unbearable crises: Silvia searches for her missing daughter in the deserts of northern Mexico; Yang attempts to hold back the expanding desert in China; Kaori mobilizes mothers as citizen-scientist to monitor radiation in Fukushima, Japan; Stacey builds on Indigenous knowledge to confront toxic legacies in Yellowknife; and, Lauren stands at the crossroads of a serious health diagnosis in Chicago.  Each story reveals surprising ways to live on, and reimagine life in the ruins. 

Featuring Lauren Berlant, Silvia Ortiz, Kaori Suzuki, Stacey Sundberg, Xue Lan Yang


Support Grassroots Searches for the Disappeared Featured in “Illusions of Control”

Please consider supporting Grupo VIDA with a generous, tax-deductible donation to Rights Action, a Toronto based group that will make sure every dollar donated gets down to Grupo VIDA to carry on their important work.



Written and Directed by Shannon Walsh

Original Score by Owen Pallett

Produced by Andréa Schmidt and Shannon Walsh

Edited by Hart Snider

Director of Photography by Pablo Alvarez-Mesa

Camera by Sun Shaoguang, Rodrigo Hernández Tejero, Katerine Giguère, Paul Kell

Sound Design Eugenio Battaglia

A co-production between What Escapes Production and Last Songbird Productions

with the Financial Participation of Telefilm Canada’s Theatrical Documentary Program and support from Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and the University of British Columbia.


Illusions of Control unfolds as a remarkable collection of micro-narratives meditating on the human will to persevere.

-Adrian Mack, Georgia Straight

Illusions of Control is a testament to […] resilience, even as it understands just how bad things really are.

-NNNN from Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Margaret DeRosia, Canadian Film Center, CFC Alumni Screening New Projects at Hot Docs 2019, April 11, 2019

She Does the City, Hot Docs 2019: SHEDOESTHECITY’S Best of the Fest, April 18, 2019

Peter Wall Institute, BC premiere of new documentary Illusions of Control, April 18, 2019

Sarah Metzger, La Source, Les femmes prennent la parole, Volume 19, Edition 19, April 23, 2019

Susan G. Cole, Point of View Magazine, Review: ‘Illusions of Control’ Hot Docs 2019, April 27, 2019

Sophia Stewart, Women and Hollywood, Hot Docs 2019 Women Directors: Meet Shannon Walsh – “Illusions of Control”,April 27, 2019

Siân Melton, The MUFF Society: Medium, Hot Docs 2019 Interview: Shannon Walsh, April 27, 2019

Norman Wilner, NOW Toronto, Hot Docs Review: Illusions of Control (4 Ns), April 28, 2019,

Staff Writer, Northern Stars: Canadian Movie Database, Hot Docs on Tuesday, April 29, 2019,

Loren McGinnish, The Trailbreaker: CBC North Radio One, How “Illusions of Control” revealed the way we think about Giant Mine, April 29, 2019

Alex Brockman, based on interview by Loren McGinnis, CBC North, Detah woman’s story of growing up next to Giant Mine featured in new film, April 30, 2019

Isabel Inclan, El Centro, Destacada Presencia Latina en el Hot Docs Festival, May 1, 2019

Adrian Mack, Georgia Straight, Illusions of Control at DOXA, May 2, 2019

Liliana Rincon, Noticieros Grem,Grupos Vida identifica dos cuerpos, pero no estaban en la fosa común, May 2, 2019

Staff Writer, Vancouver Weekly, Essential Tips for your first documentary from DOXA filmmakers, May 2, 2019

Nick Wangersky, Hollywood North Magazine, DOXA Review: Illusions of Control, May 2, 2019

Carmela Baranowska, We Are Moving Stories, Hot Docs/DOXA 2019 – Illusions of Control, Interview with Shannon Walsh, May 3, 2019

Volkmar Richter, Vancouver Observer, New Movies: Hot Picks at DOXA, May 3, 2019