StreetCity is a compelling verité feature documentary about life in an experimental housing project (called StreetCity) for homeless people on Toronto’s downtown east side. Award-winning filmmaker Bay Weyman interweaves events in the lives of StreetCity residents over a period of six months, to explore a microcosm of the homeless world: alcoholics, drug addicts, psychiatric survivors, the abused and the neglected. Most of all, the film relates to the homeless as real people. StreetCity lets residents tell their own stories of hope, struggle and resignation, creating a very personal, often humorous, yet disturbing portrait of homeless society.
There’s JoJo, a 59 year old alcoholic who spent years living under a bridge; and Bill, a gaunt middle-aged man who seems to have given up on life – until his brother arrives to take him home to Newfoundland.
Other residents include 83 year old Hazel, whose obsession with collecting things provides meaning in her life; Ed, a wiry middle-aged drug addict; Chuck, a young man “without a life” who is subjected to drug injections against his will at a local hospital; “Mayor” Bill, the illiterate leader of StreetCity’s Town Council; Marianne, a survivor of the mental health system, veering between bouts of dementia and moments of perceptive insight; Wanda, a former substance abuser who is excited about getting her life back together; and Frankie and Michel, a native woman and her Québécois boyfriend who plan to get married – as soon as he gets out of jail.
StreetCity provides these people and others with an alternative to life on the street or traditional shelters and hostels. It offers the privacy of one’s own room where residents can drink if they want (and where many do drugs), plus the freedom to come and go as they chose. Residents pay rent, usually with social assistance, and have the opportunity to participate in the management of their own community, thereby gaining a measure of self-sufficiency and self-respect -- at least in theory. StreetCity lets viewers decide for themselves how well it’s working, and what chances street people really have to turn their lives around.
“StreetCity is the sort of film that viewers remember for years. Together, Weyman and the people in his film give us their stories as gifts.” Robert Fulford, Globe & Mail
Writer/Producer/Director/Camera: Bay Weyman
Associate Producer: Susan Bacque
Sound Recordist: Deedee Slye
Editors: Mike Munn, Jeff Winch
Music: Aaron Davis
Commissioning Editor, TVO: Rudy Buttignol
Available in 74:00, 58:00 and 47:30 minute versions.
(The 58:00 minute version is also available with French subtitles).
StreetCity was produced with the financial participation of Telefilm Canada, CTCPF, CAVCO, the Ontario Film Development Corporation, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and in association with the Knowledge Network, Saskatchewan Communications Network, CFCF 12, TFO, and TVOntario.