My Dad’s Tapes – Hot Docs 2024

My Dad's Tapes Hot Docs 2024
This film contains the following triggers that may be alluded to in this review: Suicide

Table of Contents

A young man tries to reconcile his father’s death with the help of old home movie recordings in My Dad’s Tapes. On August 9, 2006, Leonard Watson dropped off his 8-year-old son Kurtis at summer camp and promptly disappeared, only to be found dead a month later of an apparent suicide. 14 years after his father’s passing, Kurtis receives a thumb drive with his dad’s old home video recordings. After seeing the footage on the tapes, Kurtis realizes he has unprocessed grief about his father’s death, which is contributing to his own issues with mental health and sexual identity.

My Dad’s Tapes Synopsis

My Dad’s Tapes is the debut film by Kurtis Watson, which sees himself turn the camera on himself and his family, as they try to reconcile unprocessed grief over the sudden and unexpected suicide of Kurtis’ father Leonard. Kurtis interviews his mother and two older sisters to try and get answers as to why his father could have taken his life. Kurtis is also led by retired police detective Geoff Ingram for the first time to the bridge by a golf course, where his father’s body was found.


My Thoughts on My Dad’s Tapes

My Dad’s Tapes is an incredibly heavy film that sees director and subject Kurtis Watson use the documentary medium as a form of personal therapy. The film also works as an outlet for Kurtis’ family, particularly his oldest sister Rebecca, who years ago moved away from home and tried to shut the suicide out of her mind. However, ultimately My Dad’s Tapes is about this family’s path towards healing and trying to stop the stigma about mental health and suicide.

Trailer for My Dad’s Tapes – Hot Docs 2024

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My Dad's Tapes (2024)
Runtime:83 minutes
Director:Kurtis Watson
Production companies:
(produced with the participation of)
On August 9, 2006, Leonard Watson dropped off his eight-year-old son Kurtis at summer camp. That's the last time anyone saw him. No bags packed, no calls, no activity in the bank account, no note: Watson disappeared, leaving his family behind. He was considered missing until 30 days later, when he was found dead by apparent suicide. Fourteen years later, Kurtis Watson discovers a trove of home videos-hundreds of hours recorded by his father leading up to his death-a discovery that inspires a painstaking search for answers in recorded moments, family testimonials, and conversations with people connected to the event in any way, including the Watson family themselves, who come together for the first time to talk about the weight of this memory in their lives. Discoveries of small details lead to impactful and revelatory moments for them, revealing an ever-present stigma around mental health. My Dad's Tapes documents the tremendously brave embrace of a reality in which some of our most burning questions may forever be unanswered. To hold each other close is all that matters.
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