A documentary by Ruggero Romano. Rating unavailable
This compact documentary about the Downtown Eastside has become something of a sensation since debuting earlier this year with two sold-out screenings at the Italian Film Festival. For Vancouverites fatigued by our city’s world-class display of unforgivable wealth inequality, the appeal is fairly obvious. V6A takes a passionate, optimistic view of a neighbourhood that, we’re told in a title card, “reveals its beauty through those who shape it—its inhabitants”.
The film’s temperately sunny idealism can be traced to 22-year-old filmmaker Ruggero Romano. Arriving from Turin in 2016, he swapped film school for volunteer work at the Carnegie Community Centre, and V6A introduces us to some of the creative personalities encountered there, who speak (or sing) to camera with a variety of results that range, naturally, from the incoherent to the powerfully intelligent.
Wandering poet-philosopher Rainbow John sets the tone within the film’s first four minutes when he improvises a breathtaking indictment of “these lunatics who worship money and not God”. He’s a hard act to follow, although peace activist Jason Maurice Timmins—stripping down to reveal expansive bruises sustained courtesy of the VPD—is no less piercing in his assessment of “men who obviously feel very impotent inside”.
In the land of the homeless, V6A strives to reframe the very idea of “home”, a theme boiled down to an eloquent few lines by Mr. Chi Pig. As such, the 2017 eviction of some 150 residents from the condemned Balmoral Hotel forms a loose background, with jibes coolly tossed in the direction of certain slumlords and former mayors. But Romano keeps the film’s politics low-key. Through its warmth and heart, especially at this advanced moment in an extremely wealthy city’s endless war on the poor, V6A is already making a big enough statement.