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Kingdom of Us: Family's tragedy becomes Netflix film

From BBC - October 2, 2017

A mother and her seven children trying to come to terms with their father's suicide have had their story turned into a Netflix documentary.

Vikie Shanks from Warwickshire, whose husband Paul died in September 2007, said the film was "brutally honest".

Six of her children, who were aged six to 16 at the time, are on the autism spectrum, and she hopes the film will raise awareness about the condition.

Lucy Cohen spent three years filming the family for Kingdom of Us.

It will be premiered at the London Film Festival on Saturday and released globally on Netflix on 13 October.

Filmmaker Cohen described the Shanks as a "fascinating and warm family".

"Entering the Shanks household in the early days was a bit like walking into a whirlwind," she said. "There are a lot of siblings, each with very different characters.

"There's laughter, tears and every emotion in between - sometimes all at once - as well as at least eight cats and dogs and sometimes chickens.

"But beyond the chaos, I immediately thought there was something very special there, an openness and a bravery in them all."

Mrs Shanks - an advocate and campaigner from Kenilworth calling for a better understanding of autism and mental health - said the film was originally going to be about autism but via an "evolutionary process" became much wider.

"Lucy just felt the story was about more than just autism and she put her life into it for four years," she said.

"We built a very solid relationship with her, very much based on trust."

The filmmaker looked through hours of home videos made by Mr Shanks, who documented the children's lives, including shows and songs they had written with him.

This footage was combined with her own during a year of editing.

'Very worrying'

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