The Bastard Sings The Sweetest Song (2012)

With an unexpected dose of dark humour, this compelling and poetic documentary plunges us into the lives of Paul ‘Muscle’ Smith and his mother Mary who live in Georgetown, Guyana. Mary is a charming, 74 year old poet with a brilliant wit - and a very serious drinking problem. When she falls down, narrowly avoiding a head injury, Muscle decides that the only way to protect her is to keep her locked up in her small, dark room at the back of the house. Despite how brutal this seems, in the violent world of Georgetown this is an act of love, and it unearths the incredible family history that brought them to this crisis point.

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[U]nclassifiable... echoing the work of Bresson and the Dardennes
— Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail
“a sensitive family far away from shock-doc filmmaking as you could get”
This film wrecked me... the most poignant true story ever told
— Chase Whale, Film Threat
“an elegantly slow reveal ...heart shattering”
— Chris Knight, National Post
Canadian director Christy Garland somehow manages to let everybody keep their dignity in her sometimes disturbing look at a Guyanese family
— Linda Barnard, Toronto Star

Selected Festivals

  • Hot Docs Int. Documentary Film Festival 2012
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012
  • Docudays Ua, Human Rights Doc Festival 2013
  • Trinidad & Tobago Int. Film Festival **Best Caribbean Feature Film by an International Filmmaker
  • Royal Anthropological Film Festival, Edinburgh 2013 **Rai Film Prize
  • Jerusalem Cinematheque Anthropological Film Festival, Israel 2012
  • Ethnocinea Vienna - Ethnography and Documentary Filmfest Vienna
  • Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival 2015
  • Millenium International Documentary Film Festival Brussels 2015


  • Royal Anthropological Institute Film Prize, Edinburgh, Scotland 2013
  • Best Caribbean Feature by an International Filmmaker, Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival 2012