Contrary to the vagueness of the Hot Docs programming schedule, the secret at the heart of first-time director Steve Lickteig’s intense and emotional family docudrama Open Secret (making it’s world premiere at Hot Docs with a rush-only screening on Tuesday, May 3 at 9:30 p.m. at the Cumberland 3, and again on Thursday, May 5 at 11:00 a.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre), is not much of a spoiler. In fact, Lickteig is very open about this secret. The NPR correspondent and radio producer is more worried about how audiences will react to the deeply personal nature of the film.
“I’m always worried because personal films are always so divisive,” Lickteig said. “Some people are really going to like them and others are going to hate them. I think I was trying to walk a really fine line with the film.”
Lickteig, around the time he was graduating high school was informed that his parents weren’t who they appeared to be. The people he called mother and father were actually his grandparents, while his sister Joanie was actually his mother and his father was a womanizing holocaust survivor that he never met. It was a secret known to everyone in the small Kansas town he grew up in except for him. In a quest for answers and a sense of closure, Steve did the incredibly brave task of talking to everyone involved in the deception head on. Steve thinks that the Lickteig family will be better off in the long run as a result of it.
“I do believe that in the end this film will bring my family closer together. It puts a lot of stuff on the table that they never wanted to talk about. I always said to my editor that this was a family project that they never fully realized they were a part of.”
Steve called Criticize This! to talk about his experiences as a first time filmmaker dealing with such a thorny personal subject shortly before travelling to Hot Docs where he will be participating in a Q&A following both screenings. Once the movie is seen by the audience, sticking around for the Q&A will be a must.