On Declan’s sixth birthday his baby brother, Michael, dies of sudden infant death syndrome. He’s left wondering if he will suffer the same mysterious fate.
Based on a true story, Sound Asleep is an intimate drama about death from the perspective of a young boy.
Writer/director: Aisling Chin-Yee
Producer: John Christou
My parents had always planned on having four children. And as luck and fertility would have it, they did. Simon, Fionn, Kevin, and me, Aisling.
But you will not find a family photo with all of us in it. There are many of my brothers Simon and Fionn and I growing up over the years. But there are precious few photos of Simon, Fionn and Kevin, and none of the four of us. Kevin was the brother I never knew.
Kevin, a little brown haired baby (both Simon and Fionn were born with black hair) died at only three months old on April 27, 1981.
On April 29, 1982, I – a baby girl with brown hair – was born. It was commented in secret how much I looked like Kevin – being fairer skinned with brown hair as he had. My birthday has since been intrinsically linked with Kevin’s death day.
In the first years of my life I was continuously under the watchful eye of my parents and their family and friends. My brothers both assumed I would die any day. My parents reassured them by allowing them to hold me whenever they wanted, or wake me up during naps if they were worried I would stay asleep forever. I think this has much to do with the fact I am a chronic insomniac to this day.
I grew up hearing Kevin’s name and pretended to have known him too, before I was born. Having grown up in a Catholic household I made up stories about us during the time after he died when I grew in my mother’s belly. I told my brothers I knew him in heaven. I claimed we played basketball together there, and that I was a much better player.
The pain of losing a sibling or child does not disappear. You just learn how to deal with it. You need to carry on and find new ways to be a family, to be a brother or a parent. I learned that having a brother you never knew does not mean you are not profoundly affected by his life.
Sound Asleep is the story of a young boy, Declan, living an adult’s pain, trying to cope with the death of his baby brother and his parents’ grief at the same time. Confused and sad, Declan tries to bring his family back together, through the only tools that he has: his imagination and his forgotten birthday.
Based on my family’s experience, Sound Asleep is a story about understanding loss that can be told only from the perspective of a SIDS sibling who has lived with the tragedy of losing a family member too young.
About Aisling Chin-Yee
Aisling Chin-Yee is a producer and director based in Montreal. She most recently produced an EDM musical series with Fluent Films and New Form Digital.
She began her career at the National Film Board of Canada in 2006 and joined Prospector Films in 2010. She has produced the acclaimed shorts Three Mothers (2008), The Color of Beauty (2010) and Sorry, Rabbi (2011).
In 2013 she produced the feature film Rhymes for Young Ghouls – a TIFF Top 10 film – and produced the documentary Last Woman Standing.
In 2014 she made Sound Asleep, her first short film as writer/director. In 2015, she directed the short documentary Synesthesia and produced The Saver.
As a writer and director she is currently developing a feature documentary entitled Color, and writing her feature drama The Day Between.