Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2003
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2003 The StarPhoenix
Author: Cam Fuller


Film Takes Hard Look At The Drug Problems That Plague Vancouver

Fix is a movie about drug addiction and politics. But it's also about 
stereotypes. Director Nettie Wild (A Place Called Chiapas) smashes your 
preconceived notions in this film about east Vancouver's horrendous drug 

The prejudices start crumbling in the first minute when you meet Dean 
Wilson, an articulate and charismatic speaker who was once a top 
salesperson for IBM. He's also, you're surprised to learn, a heroin addict. 
Then there's Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen, a business-suited poster boy for 
right wing capitalism. (In an early scene he's seen showing off his vintage 
Mercedes.) Instinctively, you assume Owen is the type of person who solves 
social problems by ignoring them. But it turns out he's in favour of a 
strategy so radical -- safe injection sites -- that it will cost him his 
political career.

Surprises like these ensure Fix: The Story of an Addicted City isn't just 
an "important'' documentary but a thoroughly watchable one. Wild covered 
her subjects for two years as the issue of a publicly-funded injection 
centre was debated on the streets and in council chambers. Opinions are 
diverse and strongly held: from a pro-business group's assertion that only 
strict law enforcement will clean up the streets to activist Ann 
Livingston's love-thy-neighbour approach. The interview subjects are 
uniformly great talkers; a cop describes his job as "shovelling water.'' A 
crack smoker takes a puff for the camera just as two cops walk by and with 
mock innocence says "I can't do this very often -- it's addicting.''

The sights, however, are alarming. The streets are filled with boarded-up 
storefronts. Drug use is rampant and open. Seriously damaged people stumble 
and twitch through the frame. To drive the point home, the camera 
unflinching observes several needle-users shooting up. The most disturbing 
is a young woman, sans front teeth, who gets a friend to jab her in the 
neck while she lies on a piece of cardboard in a back alley. The injection 
takes several attempts before providing the desired relief.

More than anything Fix takes the mask of anonymity off its subjects. The 
expression referred to several times -- "drug addicts are people too'' -- 
isn't just a catch-phrase. (To that you can add "politicians are people, 
too.'') The film forces you to look where you'd rather not. And it makes 
you realize that real people need real help.

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Fix: The Story of an Addicted City

DIRECTOR: Nettie Wild

THEATRE: Broadway

WHEN: Friday to Sunday, 7 p.m., weekend matinees 4 p.m.

All shows followed by a community forum.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens