Rob McCallum knew the search for his mom could be an emotional one.
What he didn’t know was what his journey would mean for so many others.
Making its way across the international film festival circuit, McCallum’s documentary Missing Mom, has received a surprising number of accolades, but what has made the biggest impact on the filmmaker are the personal stories and emails coming directly from fans.
“Even greater than anything we’ve gotten are some of the messages of people reaching out saying they saw the film . . . and now they’re picking up the phone to call their dad they haven’t talked to in 10 years,” he said. “Fact is everybody’s got a mom, and that’s really the huge central theme of the film. We just really want to showcase that this is a global story and not just something that’s confined to an anomaly in southwestern Ontario. So, it’s good — it’s vindication.”
The film follows McCallum and his brother Christopher Byford as they attempt to find their mom, Terri Lee Parker, who vanished in 1990.
Though the project was met with early criticism from McCallum’s family, the pair pushed on along with help from co-director Jordan C. Morris.
“It’s been tough because the family wasn’t always on board with what the film was, especially with the trailer coming out,” McCallum explained. “After they saw the film there was more understanding of course, and this just further goes to tell how important it is to stick with what you believe in.”
So far Missing Mom has been accepted into seven festivals, four of which have already screened the film in Atlanta, Miami and San Diego, earning the team a pair of honours for Best Documentary, along with awards for Best Director as well as Artistic and Technical Merit.
It’s even broken onto the global stage, taking home Best Foreign Documentary at the Copenhagen International film festival, and is currently playing in Auckland, NZ. Londoners looking to watch Missing Mom on the big screen will be able to catch it during the Forest City Film Festival Nov. 11-13.
Add to all that talks with major distributors all over the world, and McCallum couldn’t be happier so many people are getting the chance to share his story.
“The biggest thing the awards are doing is getting people more interested in watching it,” he said. “You throw something on Facebook or Twitter and people think it’s cool, but when you start seeing this rollercoaster of accolades we’ve been fortunate enough to get, people get interested.”
That interest is what has brought more and more personal stories to the forefront, from viewers all over the world.
For McCallum, getting the chance to help people rediscover their past, or find comfort in knowing there are other people out there with stories just like theirs, is a great feeling and has made all the hard work worthwhile.
“It’s actually making a difference and that’s better than any distribution deal, shiny thing on the shelf, or framed plaque on the wall,” he said, adding the 1950s ideal of a white picket fence, Leave it to Beaver family is something that rarely exists these days, and people need to stop feeling bad about it. “We want to pretend it does, so we feel guilty when we’re not in that “normal” situation. We shouldn’t feel guilty, we should explore it — my hope is this film continues to help people find the strength to do that.”