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Hot Docs 2015 Review: Stay Awhile

Stay Awhile, by Canadian director Jessica Edwards, is partaking in a clever release strategy. The film debuts at the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre on Friday, then plays at the Cineplex Front Row Centre Events on April 27th, and is available on iTunes on April 28th.

But an incredible reason to watch Stay Awhile at Hot Docs is because The Bells, the subjects of the film will be reuniting after the premiere and playing a show.

And the music really is the standout reason to see Jessica Edwards’ touching film. Stay Awhile was the name of the band’s biggest single, a hit during the early 1970’s and a real source of controversy within the group. The song was a breathy romantic duet between two members who were not a couple, but the song made them sound as if they were.

This and other revelations come out during Edwards’ extremely personal film, (she’s the daughter of the two band members that did come together), and if the film seems to be a little bit like the film Stories We Tell, but set to music.

The personal element is fascinating, although it cannot help but feel a little  voyeuristic at times, without the controlled artifice of Polley’s project that perhaps sets up a little distance. The pain almost fees too personal.

The film is still an absolute delight, and seeing footage of this often forgotten band on American Bandstand or the CBC, will help to make the audience sing and clap along, and make them want to…well, figure it out.

Be there with Bells on.

[star v=35]