The Untold Story of Candida Royalle

Why did you leave me? That’s the question at the heart of a new documentary about the life of Candida Royalle.

While You Were Gone is an intimate portrait of a woman in search of answers – a daughter in search of the mother who walked out on her when she was only 18 months old. It was an event that would shape the woman Candida would become: fiercely independent, a pioneer in erotic filmmaking, a fighter who beat drug addiction and then, eventually, ovarian cancer into remission, three times over.

This film tells the story of two women. Candida, of course, who she is today, 60 years after her mother left; An exploration of her life from the perspective of how the singular event of losing her mother influenced her step after step. It’s a story told with the deeply personal candor of a survivor facing an uncertain future, set against the backdrop of a rich and complex past. It also tells the story of a woman unknown, Peggy June, Candida’s mother. How could she walk out on two young daughters and never see them again. Where did she go? Where did she live? And, most importantly, did she ever look back?

Through Candida’s search for answers to the question she’s carried with her all these years, we meet the people she calls family – friends, colleagues, co-conspirators. And we come to understand the considerable impact her life’s work has had, the ambition that continues to drive it forward, and the strength and vulnerability that it requires. We also go on to meet the family she longed to know, and in some cases, never knew existed.

While You Were Gone truly is an untold story. In a very public life where many stories about Candida have been told over and again, this one is fresh because it is still unfolding and it frames her life in a remarkable way.

Realized in partnership with award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker Sheona McDonald, While You Were Gone will challenge the preconceived notions we have about women in pornography, and along the way, explore the imprint our choices leave on our lives… and the lives of those around us.

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