Sickboy review — Winning CBC doc on local podcasters

Directed by Andrew MacCormack | 44 min

I’ve had a look at this locally made documentary, the 61-minute version of which showed at the Atlantic International Film Festival. This TV-length edition screens on Sunday, October 15, on CBC Docs POV at 9pm.

It’s the story of Jeremie Saunders, a 29-year-old Haligonian with cystic fibrosis, which should have killed him long before he reached his late 20s. He does a podcast with a couple of his friends, Brian Stever and Taylor MacGillivary, to challenge preconceptions about illness, but also—just as importantly—further the conversation about how we experience sickness and disability in a way that demystifies it for people, maybe even destigmatizes it. Their podcast guests include people managing epilepsy, flesh eating disease, borderline personality disorder, muscle disorders, and many more debilitating illnesses.

It’s a terrific idea, and it certainly helps this documentary that the podcast hosts are confident, extroverted, and engaged. It’s also gorgeously shot through multiple seasons, showing the most fetching sides of our port city. (More aerial drone shots, fewer rats.)

The heart of the thing is Jeremie. Fighting against time and his disease, he wants this podcast to be his legacy, the thing he leaves behind, and wants to put all his remaining strength toward that. His wife, Bryde, is also a key part of the equation, and his relationship with his family. There’s an interesting revelation in how his parents helped him manage his disease early on, but also what they kept from him, and the ramifications of that decision.

Jeremie is a remarkable guy, courageous and clear-eyed in his consideration of mortality, something not a lot of people his age have to come to grips with. He says the podcast helps the people around him deal with his built in expiration date, but this is fascinating for any and all of us. It’s a moving story about exceptional people.

It also helps the doc no end that Jeremie and Bryde are the owners of Bigbie, the cutest dog ever.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.