Illusions of Control

by Shannon Walsh
A compelling meditation on the resilience of five women in the face of ecological and personal disaster, revealing surprising ways to re-imagine life in the ruins.
2019  ·  1h27m  ·  Canada
Chinese, English, Japanese, Spanish
English subs
About the Film

Taking inspiration from the late cultural theorist Lauren Berlant’s influential scholarly work Cruel Optimism, Vancouver-based director Shannon Walsh delivers a philosophical portrait of five women’s stories of survival and transformation on a global scale.

A compelling meditation on resilience in the face of disaster, ILLUSIONS OF CONTROL unfolds in landscapes that are irrevocably shaped by human attempts to dominate them. Five women confront crises that seem unbearable. 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 industrial legacies in Yellowknife. Lauren stands at the crossroads of a terminal cancer diagnosis in Chicago.

What opportunities does ecological instability offer for imagining new ways of relating to each other, to the places we inhabit, and to our collective future? In this ambitious and reflective film, each story reveals surprising ways to live on, and re-imagine life in the ruins.

Distribution Availability: Canada (Institutional/Educational, Community Screenings, Theatrical); Worldwide (Internet Rights, Home Use. Broadcast, Non-Theatrical, Festival)

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Cinema Politica is the proud Canadian distributor of Illusions of Control. Visit our distribution catalog to learn more about the licensing options.
Festivals and Awards
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Official Selection (World Premiere)
DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Official Selection
In the Press
The Georgia Straight
Susan G. ColePOV Magazine
NOW Toronto
Hot Docs 2019 Women Directors
Hollywood North Magazine
Muff Society
Hart Snider
Pablo Alvarez-Mesa
Andréa Schmidt and Shannon Walsh
Sound Editor
Eugenio Battaglia
Executive Producer
Patrick Reed
Soundtrack Composer
Owen Pallett
Shannon Walsh
Film Related
About the Director

Shannon Walsh

Shannon Walsh is a filmmaker, writer and Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia. She is writer and director of the feature documentaries Jeppe on a Friday (2013), St-Henri, the 26th of August (2011), and H2Oil (2009). She finished her first short non-fiction 360 VR, Disappearance: Hong Kong Stories, in 2017. In 2018, her first fiction feature script, Unidentified Minor, was a top 10 finalist at the Cinequest Screenplay Competition. In 2017, the script also won Best Low-Budget Screenplay at the 15th Female Eye Film Festival, was shortlisted for the CBC-TIFF Diverse screenwriting award, a quarterfinalist in the Shore Scripts competition, as well as an official selection into competition at the 2017 Oaxaca Film Festival. It was also selected for the Women in the Director’s Chair “Story & Development” lab, the Stowe Story Lab, and the WIFTV mentorship as part of the Whistler Film Festival. Unidentified Minor was shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab twice.

Walsh’s films have been theatrically released in Canada, the UK, and South Africa, and played in over 60 film festivals worldwide such as Hot Docs, Visions du Réel, Beijing, La Rochelle, Rome, Paris Cinéma, Durban, Bergen and others. Her documentaries have been broadcast nationally and internationally on Netflix, CBC, Discovery, Al Jazeera, Fox Africa, SABC, Télé-Quebéc, Global, and Canal-D, as well as in museum spaces, including the 56th Venice Biennale and the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Her work has been supported by the National Film Board of Canada, Telefilm, SODEC, Vision du SudEst, CALQ, the Gauteng Film Commission, and Canada Council for the Arts, amongst others.

Photo credit: La Presse

Other films by Shannon Walsh


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