We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the many friends, students, readers and family who ‘survived with’ Lauren Berlant. Lauren was a brilliant light in the darkness, who touched us deeply. They will be incredibly missed.

Rest in all your power dear Lauren. (1957-2021)

Who stands up when everything falls apart?

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: Lauren Berlant reflects on life and death at the crossroads of a cancer diagnosis in Chicago, 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; and Stacey builds on Indigenous knowledge to confront toxic legacies in Yellowknife, .  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.


For up to date listings or to book screenings visit Cinema Politica Distribution

Banff, AB
May 19-20, 2023, Banff Centre for the Arts

Vienna, Austria
Nov 30, 2022, Cinema Politica Vienna

Lethbridge, AB
June 28, 2020, University of Lethbridge

Toronto, ON
Feb. 5, 2020, The Royal Cinema (608 College Street)

Montreal, QC
April 17, 2020Cine-Vert, Ausgang Plaza (6524 Rue St-Hubert)

Toronto, ON
March 12, 2020, Toronto Danforth

Richmond, BC
Mar. 18, 2020Richmond Women’s Resource Center (7000 Minoru Blvd)

Edmonton, Alberta
March 7, 2020“The Female Gaze” Film Series, The Metro Cinema 

Sudbury, Ontario
Feb. 28 , 2020, Junction North Film Festival, Sudbury, Ontario

Montreal, QC
Feb. 7-19, 2020, Cinémathèque Quebecoise (335 Boulevard de Maisonneuve East)

Calgary, AB
Feb. 25, 2020, University of Calgary

Toronto, ON
Feb. 5, 2020, The Royal Cinema (608 College Street)

Calgary, AB
Jan. 31 – Feb 7th, 2020, Globe Cinema (8 Avenue SW)

Vancouver, BC
Jan. 29, 2020, The Cinematheque (1131 Howe St.)

Kassel, Germany
November 14, 2019, DokFest, Gloria Kino

Waterloo, Ontario
November 8-9, 2019, Zonta Film Festival

Calgary, Alberta
Oct 26-27, 2019, Calgary International Film Festival

Vancouver, BC
May 6 & 12, 2019, DOXA Documentary Film Festival

Toronto, Ontario
April 28, 30 & May 2, 2019, Hot Docs International Film Festival

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Junction North International Documentary Film Festival


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

This film questions why we are acting so complacent about protecting the only planet we have.
– Tiffy Thompson, She Does the City

An educational and informative work, Illusions of Control is no illusion when it comes to any world problems.
– Nick Wangersky, Hollywood North Magazine

Complex, sad and strangely beautiful.
– Susan G. Cole, Point of View Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life, Death, and Disaster: The illusion of control, Will Sharpe, Sept 23, 2019

La Jornada, ‘Ilusiones de control’, documental de resiliencia frente al desastre, Ana Mónica Rodríguez, Nov 3, 2019

CBC News, Zonta Film Festival back again, this time with 12 female-made documentaries, Carmen Groleau, Nov 7, 2019

Radio-Canada Colombie-Britannique, Illusions of Control : un documentaire sur les combats du quotidien, (podcast) Charlotte Cavalié, chroniqueuse cinéma, à Radio-Canada Colombie-Britannique, Rattrapage du vendredi 24 janvier 2020

CBC Let’s Go! Live interview with director Shannon Walsh, Feb 7, 2020

Art in America, They Did What They Could Do at the Time: Thinking with and after Lauren Berlant, July 20, 2021 Jill Casid