She Left Us Laughing

“Leave Them Laughing” is a post-mortem documentary about the joyful, light-hearted, sexy Carla Zilbersmith, diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This was directed by John Zaritsky.

It’s a feature film during the Women In Film’s Festival this weekend. I won tickets to the  film from Miss 604‘s contest. On top of the tickets, I also won a gift certificate for two to Rasoee Indian Kitchen, which I will check out sometime this month.

Being my first time at  the Vancity Theatre, I was really awed by the red comfortable seats that the theatre has. So nice! I didn’t know what exactly to expect with “Leave Them Laughing”. However, it was deeply moving to see a film about ALS, a topic that I did a  project on in Family Studies 12. It’s been awhile since Grade 12, and to be honest, I have forgotten a lot about ALS. But this film was a really touching example of how a degenerating young body looks like, and how it is to slowly leave those around you. Carla was a singer, a mother of a sixteen-year-old, and she showed a lot of personality. I can tell that she was such a joy to be around, as she was so honestly hilarious and unafraid to face her death. She kept making jokes about it!

What touched me the most was when she met teenage boys also diagnosed with ALS at an ALS Conference. She talked about how she cannot imagine what their parents are going through (Remember, Carla also has a teenage boy of her own), knowing that their child is soon to leave them. Carla said that her own father and her son might be having such a hard time with her disease. But if only she can take away the ALS from the teenage boys, she would. But this time she can’t, because she already has it herself 😦

The producer, Montana Berg, and Director Zaritsky were present at the end of the film showing to answer a few of the audience’s questions. We learned that the film only took 5 weeks to shoot, with the filming every other day (total of 16 days). The Director got the idea of the film from a joke that Carla said about death, that was posted in the Vancouver Sun. He thought it was hilarious so he decided to read Carla’s blog about her journey with ALS, and contacted her briefly. The film was completely done in November 2009, five months before Carla’s death.

Anyways, I don’t know how I’d ever have to face anybody’s death, and thank God I’ve been lucky to not directly be the one watching a loved one slowly leave the Earth. Of course, I’ve experienced the death of a loved one, but it’s especially hard for me to say goodbye..but then again, isn’t it like that for everyone?

Rest in peace, Carla Zilbersmith. And for those of you particularly fighting ALS, please stay strong and stay happy. I wish you loved ones are surrounding you, and that you have the luxury to live your life to the fullest, whatever that means to you.

Just sayin’….


Carla, her father, and her son, Mac


To learn more about the film, “Leave  Them Laughing”, please click here.
To read more about the Women In Film Festival, please click here.
To learn more about ALS, please click here.


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