This gripping documentary takes a powerful look at the lives of people with substance use disorder in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Filmmaker Veronica Alice Mannix follows Constable Al Arsenault and six other police officers on their daily beat, documenting their unique relationships with people who speak candidly about their painful past experiences, their drug addiction, and life on the street.
Manifesto Point # 6: Work through the ethics, privacy and consent process with your partners before you begin, and adapt your project accordingly. Sometimes it means changing your whole approach – or even dropping it. That’s the cost of being ethical. Here’s a controversial one. An undoubtedly gripping and raw film, Through a Blue Lens (1999) raises serious questions about the ethics, privacy and consent issues when police arm themselves with video technology in the “mean streets” of Vancouver. The police motivation for making this film was honorable: they hoped to create an educational tool to help prevent drug use among young people by filming what they witnessed on the job every day. But video in the hands of law enforcement is a tricky issue. How much did the subjects have a say in the making and distribution of this film? This is one of the NFB’s best selling DVDs of all time. But should this film have been made in the first place?Katerina Cizek
From the playlist: Manifesto for Interventionist Media - because Art is a Hammer
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Through a Blue Lens, Veronica Alice Mannix, provided by the National Film Board of Canada
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