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Hungarian-born Dr. Gabor Maté was just 5 months old when his grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. This early trauma of the Holocaust shaped Maté’s life. Immigrating to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Maté became a family physician. Throughout his career he has been drawn to the most marginalized. Maté has worked and studied extensively in areas of mental health, suicide, and drug addiction, as well as other stress-related and autoimmune illnesses. Through his work Maté became convinced that it is unfaced childhood trauma that most often lies at the root of a failure to be well. Maté has authored four books.  

The seeds for the documentary, The Wisdom of Trauma, were sewn four years ago when filmmakers Zaya and Maurizio Bennazo met Gabor Maté. The project became a comprehensive work with Maté and others involved in caring for and living among society’s marginalized. The film explores Maté’s premise that ‘trauma is not what happens to you. It is what happens inside of you as a result of what happens to you.” 

“With this film we hope to touch many people, begin a conversation and develop a common understanding about how trauma impacts our individual lives, communities, and society as a whole,” say the film’s directors.

The Bennazo’s hosted Maté in conversation with a wide variety of people recognized in their fields of study and work. From musicians, actors, and scientists to prison reformers and homeless activists, the over 60 participants cover topics on the effects of internalized trauma from newborn separation to Indigenous resilience and the climate crisis. In addition, Maté’s wife, artist Rae Maté, offers her gentle insights into their shared life of many years

This summer the film was released as part of two webinar series each spanning a week, the first in June, the second in October. The Benazzos were hoping for a viewership of 50,000, but the initial release alone garnered 4 million viewers. No doubt the current realities of pandemic, mental health concerns, and increased drug overdoses contributed to this overwhelming response. Mate himself expressed surprise at the widespread interest of what he thought would be a small unnoticed project.  

Though not a faith-based documentary, The Wisdom of Trauma will lend parents, educators, health care providers, faith leaders and many others wisdom and insight about the traumas carried forth in themselves and in their families, communities, and work environments.  

Currently, the film is available to watch online for a $15 suggested donation. (

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