Film Poster for "Illusions of Control". A woman in pink clothing stands at a viewpoint overlooking a desert.
Film Poster for "Illusions of Control". A woman in pink clothing stands at a viewpoint overlooking a desert.
A riveting meditation on resilience in the face of disaster, Illusions of Control unfolds in landscapes irrevocably shaped by human attempts to dominate them


Regular price $129.00


BEST CANADIAN DOCUMENTARY, HONORABLE MENTION - Calgary International Film Festival | OFFICIAL SELECTION - Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

Women Empowerment • Crisis • Ecological Instability • Fukushima, Japan China • Cancer • Reflective Film

Date of Completion: 2019 | Run Time: 87 minutes​​ | Languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Dene with English subtitles | Captions: No | Director: Shannon Walsh | Producers: Andréa Schmidt & Shannon Walsh

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-scientists 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.

Adrian Mack | Georgia Straight
"Illusions of Control unfolds as a remarkable collection of micro-narratives meditating on the human will to persevere."

NOW Magazine | Norm Wilner
"Illusions of Control is a testament to […] resilience, even as it understands just how bad things really are."

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

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

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

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

She Does the City
"Hot Docs 2019: SHEDOESTHECITY’S Best of the Fest"

Peter Wall Institute
"BC premiere of new documentary Illusions of Control"

La Source | Sarah Metzger
"Les femmes prennent la parole"

Point of View Magazine | Susan G. Cole
"Review: ‘Illusions of Control’ Hot Docs 2019"

Women and Hollywood | Sophia Stewart
"Hot Docs 2019 Women Directors: Meet Shannon Walsh – “Illusions of Control"  

The MUFF Society: Medium | Siân Melton
"Hot Docs 2019 Interview: Shannon Walsh"

NOW Toronto | Norman Wilner 
"Hot Docs Review: Illusions of Control"

CBC North | Alex Brockman
"Detah woman’s story of growing up next to Giant Mine featured in new film"

El Centro | Isabel Inclan
"Destacada Presencia Latina en el Hot Docs Festival"

Noticieros Grem | Liliana Rincon
"Grupos Vida identifica dos cuerpos, pero no estaban en la fosa común"

Hollywood North Magazine | Nick Wangersky
"DOXA Review: Illusions of Control"

Will Sharpe
"Life, Death, and Disaster: The illusion of control"

La Jornada | Ana Mónica Rodríguez
"‘Ilusiones de control’, documental de resiliencia frente al desastre"

CBC News | Carmen Groleau
"Zonta Film Festival back again, this time with 12 female-made documentaries"

Shannon Walsh is a director and writer of multiple award-winning documentaries, on topics ranging from labour rights, to grief and climate change. Shannon’s film, THE GIG IS UP (2021) was hailed by Variety for being “galvanizing and moving” and The Hollywood Reporter called it “a devastating reality check”. Walsh’s films have been theatrically released and broadcast globally, and screened in festivals such as Hot Docs, CPH:DOX, IDFA, Doc NYC, and many others. Walsh teaches film as an Associate Professor at UBC. She was a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, and was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2023. Her new book, "The Documentary Filmmaker’s Intuition: Creating Ethical and Impactful Non-Fiction Films" is now available, and her latest feature doc Adrianne & the Castle, will premiere at SXSW in March.