The 40-minute feature film takes the audience through the world of pediatric cannabis patients and how life-changing that process can be for kids and families.
Gouthro talks about his film, chronicling the story of a Manitoban physician named Doctor Jennifer Anderson, whose son Nicholas faced multiple issues from birth, including cerebral palsy and intractable epilepsy.
"She went through what's called twin transfusion. So, he was born with some pretty severe medical complexities, which led to infantile spasms and childhood seizures. Throughout his childhood, he suffered from these seizures and didn't really respond well to the typical pharmaceutical anti-epileptics."
Gouthro explains that in 2016 Anderson's situation with Nicholas was getting dire, and she looked to the last resort, Cannabis, specifically drops of CBD.
"She had heard a little bit about cannabis and epilepsy and thought, 'Why not?' She was just going to try it, and she had nothing else to lose. Pretty much within the course of a weekend, he went from 3 or 4 seizures an hour and living in the children's hospital to turning around to the point where he is able to live a full life."
The Portager adds that along the way in this journey, Anderson received quite a bit of backlash from her colleagues, motivating her to change the direction of her career.
"Now, she is an advocate for and oversees the treatment for dozens of other pediatric patients whose families want to explore Cannabis for epilepsy, autism, cancer and all sorts of medical complexities. So it's really a inspiring story. It follows her story and the story of three families that she treats. We're really excited to finally be able to show it to a Manitoba audience."
With the beginning of this story taking place in 2016, before legalization, Gouthro says society has come a long way with people understanding and seeing the benefits of Cannabis since then. But, he believes thinks there's still room to grow and dissolve the stigma.
"I think in the medical industry it's a very academic industry that really likes things to be black and white and studied, and because the lack of legalized cannabis in the history of the medical industry, I think it really has delayed that. I think we're moving in the right direction, but there's still a ways to go. I hope that this film can sort of be a catalyst for maybe changing some people opinions on what cannabis's role in medicine is and more specifically what its role in Pediatrics could be."
Gouthro speaks about the first meeting with Doctor Anderson.
"I was just really taken aback by her story and, the struggles that she's gone through personally and professionally. I think when there's something that a parent wants for their child, there's nothing that they'll stop at to get what's best for them, and that's what, as a storyteller, inspired me to want to tell their story. But what really inspired me was meeting all these kids. They're faced with some pretty intense medical complexities, and just the life that is in them now, especially since using this treatment is very inspiring. I would say that that was sort of the catalyst for me wanting to tell this story. If it can be a platform for these families to share their stories so that other families can have an easier time exploring these options, then that was something that I wanted to help with."
The director and producer of the film shares that Nicholas has just passed three years with no hospital visits for his seizures, adding that this is a universal and powerful story that took him just over two years to create.
"You don't have to be a parent, or you don't have to be involved in the medical industry for this to be a story that can maybe challenge the way that you think about the medical industry."
The documentary recently took home 'Best Short Documentary' from the Montreal Independent Film Festival and 'Best Direction' at the Toronto Documentary Short Film Festival, as well as selections and nominations at festivals across Canada.