The Creston and District Public Library’s National Film Board Film Club feature for April is the cinema vérité film, Who Cares, by Gemini Award-winning director Rosie Dransfeld. In this filmed-in-Edmonton documentary, Dransfeld captures the gritty and dangerous world of sex trade workers facing addiction and violence in the neighbourhood where she lives.
Cameras follow three women — Shelley, Courtney and Nancy — all caught up in the cycle of addiction, violence and prostitution, over a three month period during the summer of 2011 in Edmonton’s inner city. Courtney struggles to stay clean, Shelly takes care of everyone but herself when she’s not on crystal meth, and Nancy explains her bruises away as accidents.
Dransfeld also accompanies Project Kare investigators on ride-alongs as they collect voluntary DNA samples from prostitutes for future postmortem identification. Originally established in 2003 to look into cases of missing and murdered sex-trade workers, the Kare task force now focuses on gathering the samples for an ever-growing database that would help investigators should the women disappear or be killed.
Who Cares is unflinching and can be difficult to watch but has beautiful moments. Dransfeld views the women with a sympathetic eye. Often drug-addicted and poverty-stricken, she says sex trade workers are the most vulnerable members of society, and the most judged. While johns get off with a day of “john school” as punishment, prostitutes are often hit with jail time and heavy fines.
Dransfeld’s award-winning body of work includes Broke, about an Edmonton pawnshop, which won a Gemini award in 2010 for best social-political documentary. And in 2008, The Dog Walker, her film about a brain-injured man’s journey of healing through walking dogs, earned her two Alberta Film and Television Awards, for best documentary over 30 minutes and best non-fiction director.
Who Cares will be preceded by the animated short, Paula. Inspired by a true story in the news, this film paints a disturbing expressionistic portrait of a working-class neighbourhood that revolves around the relationship between a prostitute and a young child.
See Who Cares and Paula at the library (531 16th Ave. S.) at 7 p.m. April 11. Admission is free and running time is 90 minutes. Seating is limited. For more information on this and upcoming NFB Film Club documentaries, please call the library at 250-428-4141.
Please note that the NFB Film Club films are not necessarily added to the library’s collection. If you want to see a film please attend the screening at the library. Alternatively, most NFB Film Club features are available for viewing at www.nfb.ca for a small fee.
—CRESTON AND DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY