Shawney Cohen: Filmmaker, son, and strip club manager. For his first full-length documentary, Cohen turns the camera on his own broken family, bound together but also torn apart by the strip club they collectively own in Guelph, Ont. An historic 1800s-era gothic mansion, The Manor has over the past thirty years become a sleazy, easy-money life support for the Cohens—but at the cost of the slow, emotional dismantling of what was formerly a close-knit Jewish family.
Roger Cohen, Shawney’s father, has become a dangerously overweight, cigar-chomping showman, loud and proud, but keenly self-aware. His mother, Brenda, is a shockingly thin 85 pounds and spiraling down a dangerous anorexic spiral, fueled partly by the constant presence of naked women in the office. Younger brother Sammy is the most content, having helped out since finishing high school, and likely to inherit the business if it can stay afloat. That leaves Shawney, the family outcast returning home with a camera in tow, and over the course of three and a half years, learning more about his own family than he ever could before. This astonishing, candidly honest, warts-and-all film was the opening film at Toronto’s 2013 Hot Docs film festival.