JUST AS I AM

Evan Beloff's Latest Documentary, on Montreal's Shira Choir, is a Musical Testimony to Togetherness
WORLD / MEDIA PREMIERE
Thursday, September 23 @ 7PM

The Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue

 
 CBC Gem Screening Launch on Friday, September 24
CBC Television Debut on Saturday, September 25 @ 7PM
MONTREAL | September 2, 2021 – Acclaimed filmmaker Evan Beloff (Kosher Love, Once a Nazi..., Too Colourful for the League: A History of Blacks in Hockey) and producer Marvin Rosenblatt (A People's Soundtrack) are pleased to unveil their latest collaboration: Just As I Am. A little film with a great big heart, the feature-length documentary follows the lives of several members of the Shira Choir, comprised of an exceptional group of singers with special needs, and the choirmaster that unites them, in a touching journey through sorrow and joy, life and death—during a global pandemic.

Just As I Am will have its World Premiere on Thursday, September 23 at the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue in Montreal, alongside a performance by the Shira Choir and a Q&A with Daniel Benlolo (Choirmaster / Cantor), Evan Beloff (Director) and Marvin Rosenblatt (Executive Producer). This free public screening will take place ahead of the film's streaming launch on CBC Gem (Friday, September 24) and its small-screen debut on CBC Television (Saturday, September 25 at 7 p.m.)
JUST AS I AM
WORLD / MEDIA PREMIERE

Thursday, September 23


The Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue
(4894 Saint-Kevin, Montreal, QC, H3W 1P2)

 
  • 7:00 PM → Doors Open
  • 7:30 PM → Performance by the Shira Choir
  • 8:00 PM → Welcome + Film Screening
  • 9:00 PM → Q&A with Daniel Benlolo (Choirmaster), Evan Beloff (Director), Marvin Rosenblatt (Executive Producer) and Shira Choir members
  • 9:30 PM → Refreshments

Complete details, free public registration & vaccine passport/COVID regulations:
www.eventbrite.com/e/just-as-i-am-the-shira-choir-documentary-world-premiere-tickets-168289425201
Media RSVP
“Singing releases some of the daily stress that people go through. It has given me another form of escape and a creative outlet. Members are treated with respect and dignity, as they should be, instead of being talked down to, as other people do to those who have a disability, whether it is visible or invisible.” - Amanda Cape (Member, Shira Choir)
ABOUT THE FILM
Just As I Am is a documentary that explores an exceptional group of singers who happen to all be adults living with special needs and the choirmaster that unites them. Formed just before the pandemic, the Montreal-based Shira Choir was forced to cancel concerts and regular rehearsals, until choirmaster Daniel Benlolo and his volunteers decided to bring members and their families to weekly rehearsals online.

What unfolds is an extraordinary testament to perseverance and musical unity as they all share their weekly fears, hopes, songs and dreams. Just As I Am also offers intimate snapshots into the lives of the choir members, as they deal with their own set of intellectual and physical challenges during a time of great uncertainty and upheaval in the world. It highlights choirmaster Daniel Benlolo and his unique and charismatic vision for enabling members with special needs to fully participate in society and to feel a sense of communal belonging and enhanced self-esteem.


The documentary strives throughout to break down barriers imposed by the pandemic, but also barriers that exist in the manner we perceive people living with a disability, and spotlights the lack of outreach resources required to help them as adults – especially in a time when it is needed most. With great heart, Just As I Am is a musical testimony to togetherness, dispelling stereotypes and raising up the underappreciated among us.
A scene from from Just As I Am 
Just As I Am marks the second collaboration by executive producer Marvin Rosenblatt and director Evan Beloff, following their acclaimed first partnership on the documentary A People’s Soundtrack that premiered on PBS and had its U.S. theatrical debut at the Miami Jewish Film Festival in February 2020.
ABOUT THE TEAM
Evan Beloff – Writer/Director

Evan is a writer, director and producer who has made over 20 films. He has a 2001 Gemini nomination for Best Documentary and his film Kosher Love was a finalist for Best Canadian Documentary at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2018. In September 2018, he completed Daughters of the Voice for CBC’s Absolutely Quebec and, in 2019, A People’s Soundtrack for PBS. His previous credits include: Too Colourful for the League (CBC, 1999), Schmelvis, Searching for the King’s Jewish Roots (Bravo, 2000), Irving Layton, A Red Carpet for the Sun (CBC, 2001), Women Warriors (CBC, Radio Canada, TV series/web site, 2002-04), Being Osama (CBC, 2004), Winter Wonderland: The Making of the Ice Hotel (Global, 2005), The Legend of Memphre (Space, 2005), Once a Nazi… / Nazi Un Jour (Canal D, 2006), Bigfoot’s Reflection (Space, 2007), Leaving The Fold / Quitter Le Bercail (Radio Canada, 2008), Underdog Plaza (2011, OMNI TV, COMPASS), The Disappearance of Sandra Cantu (2014) and Underdog Rises (2015, OMNI TV). In 2005, Evan founded the film-house Ontic Media.

 
Marvin Rosenblatt – Executive Producer

Just As I Am marks Marvin's second collaboration with Evan Beloff, reprising his role as Executive Producer. His first film, A People's Soundtrack, which came to life in honour of his late parents, is focused on the challenges of Jewish cantors in today’s society by examining both their professional and personal lives outside the houses of worship. With Just As I Am, Marvin felt the need to explore the challenges of both an exceptionally unique group of choir members and their families. By utilizing the universal language of music to highlight the unique composition of the subjects and, at same time, examine an overlooked and neglected segment of the population, Marvin's goal with the film was to better understand and discuss ways to improve services such as education and vocational opportunities.
 
Evan Beloff (Director), Marvin Rosenblatt (Executive Producer), Daniel Benlolo (Choirmaster) and members of the Shira Choir are available for interviews.

Download high-res stills of Just As I Am here
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Media Contacts

  Danny Payne | 514-621-8657 | danny@raisondetremedia.ca
Alex Nitsiou | 514-443-3731 | alex@raisondetremedia.ca

 
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