"Anytime you tell the true story of a woman, it's a radical act." — Julia Reichert, filmmaker
A fierce believer that the personal is in dialogue with the political and that multidimensional story telling has the power to transform our world, Michelle Melles has been creating social issues documentaries for over twenty years.
Michelle began her career producing and story-editing the internationally-syndicated and multiple award winning Canadian docu-series SexTV (1999-2010). This ground-breaking docu-series explored issues surrounding sexuality and gender around the world in a thought-provoking and cutting-edge way. She produced numerous documentaries for the show's ten season run focusing on strong and complicated female characters and the complexity of sexual and gender expression in the modern world. Notable documentaries during this period are: “Intersexuality: Redefining Sex” (2000) examines the medical ethics of surgically altering children born Intersex; “Sex, Love & Race: A Legacy of Slavery in America” (2001) (shot just before 9/11 in Louisiana and Mississippi) explores the impact of slavery on African American relationships and interracial relationships; past, present, and future; “Unnatural Selection: Eugenics in North America” (2005) investigates the Eugenics movement through the story of Leilani Muir (1944-2016) who was sterilized without her consent at the Provincial Training School for Mental Defectives; “Quiverfull - Shunned From God’s Army” (2008) examines The Quiverfull movement in the United States through the story of one of its key excommunicated female leaders; and “Sister Wives: Born into Polygamy” (2008) tells the story of the oldest and youngest sister wives who fled from their husband and their Mexican Mormon compound to gain freedom in the U.S.
Under her banner Parallel Vision Pictures, Michelle now produces independent, multidimensional social issues documentaries that challenge preconceived ideas and offer unique ways of perceiving ourselves, each other, and the world. She also works with her husband under his banner Parallel Vision Productions.
She holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Documentary Media from The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University (Gold Medal, 2021, summa cum laude); received the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant from the Canadian Government for her work in documentary filmmaking and transformative mental health (2021), and holds a BA from the University of Toronto (high distinction; faculty scholar, 1995).
She is a member of New Day Films a U.S. based filmmaker-run distribution company, providing social issue documentaries to educators since 1971. New Day sustains the ideas that inspired its formation in 1971 - collaboration, hope and social change.
Drunk on Too Much Life (2021) is Michelle's first feature length independent documentary. Drunk on Too Much Life is an intimate and powerful documentary following the filmmaker's 21-year-old daughter’s mind-opening journey from locked-down psych wards and diagnostic labels towards expansive worlds of creativity, connection and greater meaning. Meeting the likes of trauma expert Dr. Gabor Maté and many others, the family begins to question the widespread idea that mental illness should be understood in purely biological terms. They learn the myriad ways that madness has meaning that goes far beyond brain chemistry.
You can watch the trailer, learn more and stream the film through New Day Films.