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Amnesia remembered: Saga hits big screen

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September 21, 2005

Source: McGill University:

Amnesia remembered: Saga hits big screen

Source: University Relations Office (URO) [newswire]

September 21, 2005

McGill staffer played role in real-life drama that is now a movie

It was a sensational news story that seemed torn from a movie script — except it was real. The year was 1998. The story was that of a man who claimed to have woken up amnesic and naked in a deserted Montreal parking lot. All he could remember about his life was that he was British and gay.

Eight years later, those real-life events are hitting cinemas as Amnesia: The James Brighton Enigma. Anyone who scanned the international headlines Brighton created might recall that Gregg Blachford, director of McGill's Career and Placement Service, played a central part in the drama. Blachford, who's been a Gay Line volunteer listener for 13 years, remembers, "James was certain that he was gay and that's why, after several weeks of undergoing treatment at the McGill University Health Centre, he phoned Gay Line to seek help from his community."

Gay Line volunteers rallied in Brighton's support. Blachford agreed to house Brighton and help him piece his life back together. He also helped persuade Brighton to share his unbelievable story with media around the world. "Sadly, James became more and more melancholic, as nobody seemed to be looking for him," recalls Blachford.

A U.S. television tabloid, Hard Copy, eventually revealed that Brighton's true name was actually Matthew Honeycutt. In the middle of the night, Brighton was arrested by Montreal police for public mischief. "The media, which had previously treated him sympathetically, turned on Brighton and called him an imposter," relates Blachford. "Gay Line, and many of those who met James, resisted that interpretation."

Now this incredible account has been turned into Amnesia: The James Brighton Enigma, which is premiering this month. The movie is directed by Denis Langlois, whose previous works include L'Escorte (1996) and Danny in the Sky (2001). The film closely follows the James Brighton story, albeit with fictionalized names and personas. A new character named Sylvie is also introduced as a criminology student who tries to reconstruct Brighton's life and how he came to be in Montreal.

An advance screening of Amnesia: The James Brighton Enigma will be held at 7 pm on Monday, September 26, at the Cinéma Quartier Latin (350 Emery St.). All proceeds will be given to Gay Line and its francophone partner, Gai Écoute. Admission is $15 at the door or in advance through Boutique Priape (1311 Ste-Catherine St. E.). The film goes into general release on September 30. For more information, please consult the Amnesia website.


Gregg Blachford


McGill Career and Placement Service



Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins

Associate director

University Relations Office




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