The National Film Board of Canada has provided audiences with a heartwarming and whimsical exploration of art, family, and the power of human connection in LAY DOWN YOUR HEART. Directed by B.C.’s talented Marie Clements, known for her work in BONES OF CROWS and THE ROAD FORWARD, this remarkable production is now available for streaming on (free across Canada). At the center of this captivating film is the extraordinary artist and lifelong performer, Niall McNeil, a person with Down syndrome, whose boundless creativity and unique perspective shine through in every frame.

Unveiling Niall’s World

An accomplished Vancouver-based artist, Niall McNeil invites viewers into his enchanting universe, introducing us to his “family members” – a diverse tapestry of blood and chosen relations, including his multiple “children” (some twice his age!), his renowned “ex-wife,” the film’s director, Marie Clements, and more. United by their shared creative passion and deep connections with Niall, this unconventional family boasts some of Canada’s most outstanding theatrical and artistic talent.

Niall with his Uncle Linz (Linz Kenyon) Photo credit: Image from the film - Courtesy of National Film Board of Canada.

Niall with his Uncle Linz (Linz Kenyon) Photo credit: Image from the film – Courtesy of National Film Board of Canada.

Artistic Processes Unveiled

With the assistance of Niall’s chosen sons and daughters, the film provides an intimate look into their shared artistic processes. From Niall’s lifelong creative practice as an actor, playwright, painter, and musician to fundamental questions about what draws one artist to another, LAY DOWN YOUR HEART unravels the mysteries of creativity. The narrative gracefully navigates the challenges and joys of collaboration, offering insights into the profound impact that art can have on building not just community, but also family.

Playfulness, Joy, and Unconditional Acceptance

At its core, LAY DOWN YOUR HEART is an uplifting glimpse into a brilliant creative mind and a testament to art’s ability to forge life-changing connections. Niall’s mischievous humour and open-hearted vulnerability paint a new vision for kinship guided by playfulness, love, and unconditional acceptance. The film challenges societal norms, celebrating the beauty of diversity and the strength that emerges from embracing one another with open hearts.


LAY DOWN YOUR HEART is a warm and whimsical welcome into a one-of-a-kind and wholly unforgettable family. As Niall McNeil invites us into his world, we are reminded of the transformative power of art and the profound connections that can be forged through creativity. This film is not just a documentary; it’s an invitation to embrace a new vision of kinship—one where playfulness, love, and unconditional acceptance reign supreme. Stream LAY DOWN YOUR HEART on and embark on a journey that will touch your heart and leave you with a renewed appreciation for the magic of human connection.