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FOUR LETTERS APART (#HotDocs14 Review)

Hot Docs 2014

Directed by Erlend Mo
In Erlend Mo’s FOUR LETTERS APART, a group of educators attempt to improve the learning experience and day to day of three children living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Marino, Victor, and Martine are in a special needs class at their elementary school in Denmark. While making the film, the three were taken off of their ADHD medication, Ritalin. The film proposes an alternative treatment which consists of spinning the children around in chairs, rubbing their legs, and playing catch while the child is wearing an eye patch over one eye. This part of the alternative treatment looks just as silly as it sounds, but it’s not all that’s being done for the three kids. In addition to the spinning, rubbing, and catching, the children are given a more hands-on learning experience, where their teachers treat them almost as patients, but in a very friendly way that clearly helps their behaviour.


Though the film does make some great points, there is one rather large problem; The experiment in the film is only being done on three children, one who is later revealed to have been misdiagnosed with ADHD and has actually had epilepsy the entire time. The two children who actually do have ADHD were raised in similar situations, both being brought up by a single mother. To provide a strong thesis, the filmmakers really should have studied more than two children with ADHD. Regardless, the film does manage to put forth some very interesting ideas and manages to be thoroughly entertaining throughout.

3.5 sheep

#HotDocs14 Screenings

04.25, 3:45, TIFF Bell Lightbox

04.27, 9:30 PM, ROM Theatre

05.04, 6:00 PM, Scotiabank

Click here for tickets.

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Four Letters Apart?




  1. I just got home from seeing this at Hot Docs and your information is incorrect. The director was there to answer questions and made it quite clear that there was no change in meds during the filming.

  2. Alex, what I meant by that was that they were taken off their medication just before the production of the documentary. If they were not taking Ritalin to begin with then that was not made clear in the film.

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