It is really all about hope–The most pressing issue before London now, helping the homeless and those suffering mental health challenges, takes center stage in the Forest City Film Festival’s “Deep Dive” screening on Mental Health and Homelessness (taking place on Saturday, October 21st, at 3 pm in the Wolf Performance Hall).
The screening brings together special guests with a series of short films with shared themes of individuals and communities coming together to identify and tackle issues.
From a loved one suffering a mental health breakdown to an entire city taking on the issue of housing those in need, all serve as a reminder about how we can overcome together.
About the Deep Dive Films:
Homelessness in London, Ontario is directed by Lucas Arender and Madeleine McColl.
This film features many voices from those on the street, to support workers, to politicians, discussing not just the scope of the crisis but what is being done. It manages a tough balance of laying bare a crisis and how we got here while also discussing action being taken, and the desire that it will work.
“If they identify you as homeless or having mental health they immediately devalue you in their minds,” said Jesse House, from Youth Opportunities Unlimited. But from a broad, politically charged issue the series shifts to focus on powerful, and beautiful individual stories.
Ten Pushups Away is the story of a young man with ambitions of joining the national wrestling team until an injury sidelines his dream. Director Sarah Lovell shows how he worked through the damage, undeterred from his ultimate goal in this heartfelt, compelling narrative.
“I was this victim. I did not want people to look at me like that. I want to be the hero,” said Clayton Pye, the film’s subject.
Uproot is a beautiful, touching film that stands as a tribute to the power of love and support of family in helping someone in need.
The story is deeply personal for director Queena Liu. Her father was diagnosed at 45 with bipolar disorder, and it is with the support of his wife and children he rebuilt his life. Chinese immigrants, the father helps audiences understand how it impacted him, changed his behavior and his life, but then regained his sense of normalcy.
This conversation happens against a backdrop of nurturing and care, such as preparing a meal shared by the family, the building of a garden by family members.
It is in the garden the mother talks of the healing power of the garden, but it is really about a family’s love.
“All the flowers in our garden take root by our hand,” she says.
The film A Human Picture reminds us that for a brief snapshot in time, Ontario was at the forefront of an initiative to end poverty – and it was working.
Directors Luke Mistruzzi and Simon Brothers detail how Hamilton was the site of a basic income pilot project initiated by the Ontario government, only to have it ended by the Conservative win in 2018.
The film profiles those receiving the benefit and how it changed their lives and audiences are treated to very real, genuine and powerful discussion on poverty’s impact and what can be done.
The filmmakers employ a subtle, clever device of filming the recipients holding a sign detailing how they were helped and the written words carry weight and meaning.
“It is not a quick fix, it is not the magic fix but it was decent to sustain life,” said one woman who received the benefit.
Overgrown follows the story of an elderly woman being displaced from her home. We watch as her belongings are taken away, and she attempts to leave a piece of herself in the apartment’s floorboards.
Each of these films leaves viewers with a powerful message: homelessness and mental health are not limited to a singular demographic or a specific stereotype. While these films mention solutions, like affordable housing, programs like basic income, or increased awareness for mental illness in the Canadian health care system, these solutions can only be applied if the surrounding communities bond together in support.
About our Deep Dive Guest Speakers
After the screening, Natasha Thuemler (Indwell) and Steve Cordes (YOU) will be leading a talk with filmmakers and the audience, to bring our community into this critical conversation.
Steve Cordes has dedicated his career to community service. He joined Youth Opportunities Unlimited as its first Job Developer and has led the organization as its Executive Director since 1988. Under Steve’s leadership, the organization has grown to an award winning agency in the areas of youth employment, social enterprise and affordable housing. He recently lead the organization and its partners in a major project; a Housing First youth shelter, and is currently leading another significant project; a youth wellness hub.
Natasha Thuemler is the Southwestern Regional Manager at Indwell. Indwell is a charity that creates affordable housing communities that support people seeking health, wellness and belonging, with active projects in London. Most recently, Indwell has been working with the City of London to build 44 deeply affordable, highly supportive housing units, a step toward London’s promise to open 100 such apartments by the end of the year.