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Sep 30, 2018 at 7:30 pm

When We’re Ready: Broadcasting Our Grief

Screening to be followed by a discussion with Sophie Townsend and Lu Olkowski

Sophie Townsend will join us this Fall to share a selection of her fearlessly personal audio documentaries that expound on family, grief, identity, desire and selfhood.

If you don’t know the work of Sophie Townsend,  this is a chance to dive into her transportative diaristic approach to personal documentary. Townsend lays all bare in her work as she grapples with the loss of her husband, exploring anticipated and felt absence, as she cycles through the shock, numbness, and processing of her stages of grief and wading forward through it all.

We’re thrilled to have Townsend, an internationally celebrated and award-winning producer here all the way from Australia in town to discuss this work with UnionDocs advisor, and host of the CBC podcast, Love Me, Lu Olkowski.


Stories and Driving

Sophie Townsend and her husband used to go on long driving trips, taking the back roads and scenic routes, with a cup of hot coffee between them and a constant supply of Fellini soundtracks on the stereo. Sophie no longer drives those routes though, and she’s slowly losing those memories because it’s another story, one that keeps forcing it’s way up to the surface, that keeps eclipsing those earlier recollections.

Mr. Fix-it

5 min., 2015, Australia.

A conversation between mother, Sophie Townsend and daughter, Anna about MrFix-it, husband and father.

The Understudy

10 min, 2016, Australia.

Sophie Townsend has been a widow for a year and a half.  She is too busy taking care of her children to entertain the idea of dating, until a man compliments her shoes.

The Beautiful Girl

15 min., 2017, Australia.

As a teenager, Sophie Townsend was swotty and awkward, bookish and unsophisticated. She used to watch the pretty, popular girls across the playground as if they were creatures from another planet. Now a motherherself, she is mystified by her 14-year-old daughter, who is more interested in make-up than books, and who struggles with her grades at school. She is one of the pretty ones. Perhaps too pretty for her own good…

A Good Year for Roses

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Beginnings always bring endings of their own, and even when a child is on the cusp of something new, and big, there is grief for the way it used to be.

Ribbon Gums

10 min., 2018, Australia

Australians are used to seeing blackened landscapes after bushfire season – but when Sophie travelled to the mountains last summer, and saw the remains of the Ribbon Gum trees, it was clear it was more than fire that had scarred the world around her. A meditation on loss after loss, and the way what doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger.

50 min

Sophie Townsend is a senior producer and editor at the ABC’s Radio National, and her feature-making work is internationally recognized.

In 2015 she won the HearSay International Audio competition with her piece Mr Fix-it. Her works Stories and Driving and The Updates were featured at Third Coast in 2015, and she was a Australian Walkley Award nominee for her documentary Cancer as a Battleground. She regularly makes work for the BBC’s Short Cuts podcast, and were work has also featured in CBC’s Love Me.

Lu Olkowski is an award-winning radio producer based in Brooklyn. She is drawn to stories that evolve through multiple generations: how pride or shame in one’s racial identity, poverty, and artistic impulse can be passed down in families. At present, she is working on three secret radio projects. At least one of them will be a podcast.


Sep 30, 2018
7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Free – $10


BROOKLYN, NY 11211 United States
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An immersive performance based on an unforgettable amateur audio recording made over 60 years ago.