Surrounded By Water

Surrounded By Water
by Rhonda Buckley

Joan Morrissey lit up a room. Her powerful singing held the audience in the palm of her hand with her rich, bold voice. She was a lounge singer six nights a week and raised her six children all day and night too. She was born in 1933 in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland and started singing on the radio at seven years of age. She was nominated for a Juno award, sold over 50,000 records and when a Toronto record company sent her a cheque for $38.00 she took them to court, insisting artists must be paid.

Joan washed her children’s clothes in a river, yet still managed to host eight TV shows for two local TV stations, performed live on Canada AM, where with Newfoundland bravado, she sang Thank God Were Surrounded by Water, to glowing reviews. Joan performed in Toronto and Nashville, and volunteered with the parent teachers association. Joan performed while pregnant and at times up until the last day before she gave birth. From Joan’s point of view, “I said I could do it and that is why I can. It is no more than folding laundry or baking bread. I always knew I could do it and so I do.”

She had withstood a court case with a national record label, a jealous and harsh husband, and a heart surgery that left her with severe depression. At 44 years of age, after singing ‘how great thou art’ to family and friends on New Years Day, 10 days later she took the rifle she had used at the cabin for plinking cans, and while the children were at school she ended her life. “Yes My Dear”, Joan would say, I will sing you a song...

Canadian filmmaker Rhonda Buckley (Hot Docs, Tiff) is debuting her short dramatic film Surrounded By Water that will screen at international festivals in 2019. Based on a true story about Joan Morrissey in the 60’s in a small community, the short drama considers harsh emotions of depression.

  • Rhonda Buckley
  • Rhonda Buckley
  • Rhonda Buckley
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    20 minutes 11 seconds
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Director Biography - Rhonda Buckley

Rhonda Buckley
Surrounded By Water Short Film
Media Connections Film Inc
Rhonda Buckley is a Newfoundland filmmaker who makes feature and short films with a feminist point of view. Buckley is an award-winning writer/director/producer of short films; Surrounded by Water, Terranova Matadora (BravoFact), on a Newfoundland woman bullfighter that screened at Hot Docs 2016, and Avon Ladies Rural Style. Rhonda is the producer of Mary Walsh’s feature film Come Home Year (2019) and her own feature film Limelight with Telefilm Canada. She was selected to TIFF with films she produced by writer/director Sherry White including the Genie nominated feature film Crackie (2010). Rhonda has made four other documentaries for broadcast.

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