Us and Them is an inspiring documentary about transformation—but not in the way you would expect in a film about homelessness.
Made over 10 years in Victoria, it reveals how four people living on the streets—Stan Hunter, Eddie Golko, Dawnellda Gauthier, and Karen Montgrand—struggle with addiction, grow, evolve, and become friends.
But it's also a deeply personal journey into how this affected and changed one of the filmmakers, Krista Loughton, former programming and community liaison at CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers. And it's also likely to transform audiences.
Last night, CHEK-TV broadcast the world premiere of Us and Them, which was coproduced by Jennifer Abbott (The Corporation) and includes appearances by Vancouver physician and addiction expert Dr. Gabor Maté.
It's a jaw-droppingly authentic and empathetic exploration of the roots of homelessness and how we are all not so different after all. Us and Them is also extraordinarily well written and the music will lift your spirits.
You can see the trailer below.
Homeless people have many strengths
Homelessness is a familiar topic to readers of this website.
That's because the Georgia Straight has been posting articles for several years by Stanley Q. Woodvine, a long-term homeless person living in the Fairview neighbourhood. It's been a privilege to share his perspectives with a wider audience than he reaches on his blog.
So I can relate to the transformational message in Us and Them.
Getting to know Stanley and reading his view of the city from the streets has changed my perceptions and, I'm sure, the views of many of his readers about people living rough in Vancouver.
Stanley has taught me that a homeless person can be more knowledgeable, more perceptive, more creative, more community-minded, more artistic, and more kind-hearted than many of the people we encounter in our day-to-day lives.
He's also shown me that a homeless person can be a tech genius, a very witty writer, and have a sky-high I.Q.—and not be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
If I have one quibble with Us and Them, it reinforces public perceptions that the homeless are addicts or struggling with mental illness. That's not always the case.
Yet in a similar way to Stanley, the homeless people in Us and Them reveal strengths that would never be noticed by local residents seeing them on the streets or hunched in a corner of McDonald's or binning in a back alley or sleeping in a parkade.
If you get the chance, check out this documentary.
It will open your heart and just might spur you to take action in your community.More