Spirit Unforgettable

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Spirit Unforgettable
Spirit Unforgettable.jpg
Film poster
Directed byPete McCormack
Produced byPete McCormack
Ben Murray
StarringSpirit of the West
Music bySchaun Tozer
CinematographyIan Kerr
Edited byTony Kent
Bell Media
Little Kingdom Productions
Project 10 Productions
Distributed byHBO Canada
Release date
  • April 30, 2016 (2016-04-30) (Hot Docs)
Running time
86 minutes

Spirit Unforgettable is a Canadian documentary film, which premiered at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in 2016.[1] Directed by Pete McCormack,[2] the film profiles the Canadian folk rock band Spirit of the West in preparation for a 2015 concert at Massey Hall, as part of their farewell tour following lead singer John Mann's diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.[3]

At the time of the Massey Hall concert, it was possible but not definitive that due to Mann's cognitive decline, the show may have become the band's last-ever concert performance.[2] The band did, however, ultimately perform a few more times following the show, most notably for a three-night series of finale performances at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom in April 2016.[4] The film also includes Mann's wife Jill Daum, an actress and playwright who has written her own theatrical play about Alzheimer's, Forget About Tomorrow.[4] Musician Paul Hyde also contributes to the film's soundtrack, performing a rendition of a song, "I Miss My Mind the Most", which Mann wrote about his experience.[5]

McCormack, a longtime friend of the band, invested $100,000 of his own money in the film up front, telling The Globe and Mail that "I had to go and dive in right away … funding or no funding, because of the disease."[6] The film did later secure funding, including a completion grant from the Shaw Media/Hot Docs Fund.[7]

Many critics have singled out the band's live performance of their signature song "Home for a Rest" near the end of the film, which saw the entire audience begin to sing along the moment Mann had a slip in remembering the lyrics, as its life-affirming emotional climax.[1][8]

The film aired on HBO Canada on July 1, 2016.[9]


At the Vancouver International Film Festival in October 2016, Spirit Unforgettable won the award for Most Popular Canadian Documentary (based on audience balloting).[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Spirit Unforgettable". NOW, April 26, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "'Unforgettable' Spirit Of The West documentary". Toronto Sun, April 29, 2016.
  3. ^ "In Spirit Unforgettable, early onset Alzheimer’s doesn’t stop Spirit of the West". Chart Attack, May 5, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "The unforgettable spirit of Spirit of the West". Q, May 2, 2016.
  5. ^ "Legacy of John Mann, Spirit of the West lovingly told in poignant documentary". Vancouver Sun, October 6, 2016.
  6. ^ "With front man John Mann battling early-onset Alzheimer’s, Spirit of the West prepares for its final gig". The Globe and Mail, April 13, 2016.
  7. ^ "Shaw Media-Hot Docs invests $120K across 5 projects". Playback, September 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "Review: ‘Spirit Unforgettable’". POV Magazine, April 28, 2016.
  9. ^ "Intimate documentary explores Spirit of the West singer's journey with Alzheimer's". CTV News, June 28, 2016.
  10. ^ "Documentary on Spirit of the West singer wins VIFF award". The Globe and Mail, October 14, 2016.
  11. ^ "Maudie Wins Coveted VIFF Super Channel People's Choice Award" (Press release). Greater Vancouver International Film Festival Society. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.

External links[edit]