Hot Docs 2021 Women Directors: Meet Sheona McDonald – "Dead Man's Switch: a crypto mystery"
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Sheona McDonald is an an award-winning filmmaker who worked in the Canadian film and television industry as a writer, producer, and director for over two decades. Her recent films include "Into Light," "Candice," "A short Essay on Men," and "Inside Her Sex." McDonald also directed Season 2 of "Emergency Room: Life and Death" at VGH...
for Knowledge Network. Her dramatic feature film script, "Back By Midnight," was recently optioned by Christine Haebler of Screen Siren Pictures. McDonald is currently writing her first novel.

"Dead Man's Switch: a crypto mystery" is screening at the 2021 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival, which takes place April 29-May 9. The fest is digital this year due to COVID-19. Streaming is geo-blocked to Canada.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

SM: "Dead Man's Switch" is a feature length documentary that explores the mysterious, twisted, and unregulated world of cryptocurrency through the story of the rise and fall of the Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX and the mysterious death of its CEO and founder, Gerald Cotten.

This is a tech film, a mystery film, and a crime film. It is a film about shadows and perceptions, supposition and greed.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

SM: Two-fold. I had been tasked with pitching a film about cryptocurrency a year before Gerald died and was challenged to find a story about crypto that was engaging enough to maintain my interest long-term — to tell a story that would intrigue an audience, and a story that had some value. When it was reported that Gerry died and money was missing, I knew immediately that this was the story I had been tasked to tell.

W&H: What do you want people to think about after they watch the film?

SM: I want people to explore their own ideas about loss, greed, money, technology, investment, risk, and reward. Hopefully they are entertained, a little better versed about crypto, and full of opinions and speculation about what actually happened to Gerry Cotten.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

SM: The greatest challenge was figuring out — without having access to the people I was…
Kara Headley
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