As they say, the truth hurts.
Alan Zweig's documentary Hurt, a brutally honest portrait of troubled cross-Canada runner Steve Fonyo which won the Toronto International Film Festival's Platform Prize, is certainly wince-inducing.
Fonyo, who ran 8,000 kilometres across Canada—a superhuman feat for an able-bodied person—as an 18-year-old with an artificial leg to raise $14 million for cancer research in 1984 and 1985, is captured contending with numerous problems stemming from a history of substance abuse and criminal convictions to living in a dangerous neighbourhood in Whalley.
In an interview at a Robson Street office, Fonyo told the Georgia Straight he "felt like a bit of an idiot" when he saw himself in the film, which is screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
The 1985 death of his father, who he described as "my best friend, my buddy, my advisor, the person I looked up to", was a crushing blow and turning point in his life. After his father died of lung cancer, Fonyo said he became lost and lonely.
Yet he takes full responsibility for his downward spiral and internal conflicts.
"Whatever happened with me, it's obviously I've done [to myself]...and the only person who can change it is myself," he said. "I look at it in a positive way, 'Well, if I don't like some things about myself, guess what? I guess it's time to change it now.' "
Meanwhile, the film also jogged his memory of how people across Canada, as he ran from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Victoria, B.C., were so supportive and what he accomplished, which he said he forgets about sometimes.
One lingering sore spot is how the Order of Canada, which he received in 1985, was taken away from him in 2009. He clarified that when he talks in the film about how Canadians should have helped him out, he was referring to those involved with the Order of Canada.
"It's just sad that the same people that run the country, that it was the best idea they could come up with, is 'Take the fucking Order of Canada away from him', and thinking that's the answer," he said. "What they should've done is sent someone from Ottawa or whatever, 'Steve, is there anything we can do to help?' "
Something he does need help with at the moment is finding a new place to live.
He's currently recovering from near-fatal home-invasion attack in February, which left him in a coma and slurred speech.
"We need a stable place where we can call home—out of Surrey," he said. He added he would appreciate any assistance as the RCMP want him out of Surrey for his own protection.
"I'm lucky to be alive," he said of the attack. "I don't see any good to come out of it whatsoever but I'm trying to keep positive and just move forward, and put all that shit behind me."
While the film ends with the attack, he said there are now plans to shoot a second documentary to continue the rest of his ongoing story.
For instance, although he's still physically recovering from the attack, there have been other forms of healing since the first film was completed.
While Hurt details his marital problems with his wife (who he is separated from), he said he's in love with his "awesome girlfriend". Consequently, the loneliness he expressed in Hurt is a thing of the past.
"There's no question my life is a little more quiet, more stable, more positive, and more secure because she's the number one in my life so I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that," he said. "Because I have her in my life, I've gone a straight arrow."
He added with a laugh: "I even pay for parking which I never did before."
Hurt screens on Wednesday (September 30) at 9:30 p.m. at International Village and on Thursday (October 1) at 3:45 p.m. at the Playhouse as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival.