When film becomes a revolution 

What: FIX, The Story of an Addicted City

Where: Rainbow Theatre

When: Friday, Dec. 6, 4:30 p.m.

This is my prediction, I’d even put money on it. If there’s one film that will cause a commotion at the Whistler Film festival, it will be Fix: The Story Of An Addicted City . It’s a film about a city on its’ knees with drug abuse. And no, it’s not set in a third world country, it’s just down the road, in Vancouver to be exact.

Audiences across Canada have been shocked, appalled and inspired into action by the latest documentary from director Nettie Wild, best known for her feature A Place Like Chiapas . Wild spent two years following Vancouver’s drug addicts, the social workers who try to support them and a political system that seems to give up as much as it tries to give a hand. The end result of Wild’s work is one of the most profound vehicles for social revolution the country has ever seen.

For Wild, it was a film that almost didn’t happen.

"I was put off by the original concept actually," she said. "I didn’t see the point of doing a film on how bad the drug problem was. I didn’t see the point. Most of us knew that already," she said.

But a chance meeting in the bowels of St. Paul’s Hospital changed Wild’s mind altogether.

"I was researching the possibility but not fully committing to the project when social worker Ann Livingston stood up and said she was sick of politicians doing nothing. She asked people who felt the same way to join her again the next week to look at new ways of dealing with the drug crisis," said Wild.

She went along to that meeting and found a huge crowd of people wanting to help.

"There was an amazing energy in that room, and people of all walks of life. A chief crown prosecutor, renegade bureaucrats, AIDS activists and even drug addicts spoke up. These people wanted to take real risks to change things and that became the core of my project."

The film revolves around Dean Wilson, an ex-IBM salesman who has become a heroin addict. He is articulate, caring and president of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), representing street addicts from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside – one of Canada’s poorest neighbourhoods, and the site of the highest HIV rate in North America. Wilson fights to open North America’s first safe injection site, together with a team of using and non-using supporters.

Wild was impressed when big-name cinemas put her film on alongside the typical Hollywood releases. It was exactly what she wanted.

"I love cinemas because you can influence people so much more than any other medium. You lock 300 people in to a dark room and transform them via a big screen and audio to another place. While with TV, most people have barely one eye on the screen, with the phone ringing, dinner bubbling or the kids scrapping under your feet. There’s no contest when it comes to the impact."

The impact factor was the main reason she ended up transferring her 357 40-minute digital tapes onto 35mm film.

"In terms of the political message, the film is about people dealing with something profound. You want to make it mainstream to reach an audience that will hopefully become proactive," said Wild.

Tickets to FIX can be purchased at MY Place, Nesters Market, Bestsellers and by calling the Whistler Activity & Information Centre, 604-938-2769.

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