OCanFilmFest2020 Ottawa Canadian Film Festival

Suffering from mental health issues and addictions, a diverse homeless population struggles to survive the winter in the coldest capital city in the world.

Stephen R. Coleman

Stephen R. Coleman, director

Stephen Coleman’s artistic career began unexpectedly during a mental health crisis as he experienced profound empathy and compassion for those suffering in the world around him.

Coleman’s art practice goes far beyond “making documentary films”. He sees the art form as a powerful method to educate and inspire with captivating narrative, powerful imagery, dialogue and music.

Producer Sterlin Fernando answered a few questions.

What inspired your film?

The film’s director, Stephen R. Coleman, was at a point in his life where he was struggling with depression. He saw telling the stories of resilience of the homeless in Ottawa as a way to help both them and himself. I met him at a party and when he put a call out for volunteers, I volunteered because I wanted to do some good in the world and try to make a difference.

What was your biggest challenge in making your film?

There were a number of challenges in making this film: gaining the trust of the homeless, challenges with filming at night in Ottawa’s very cold winters and filming a visually stunning film with a very small budget and an even smaller team. Now that the film is done, we are experiencing challenges getting the film distributed out there so that the world can see it.

What was the best part of the experience for you?

I enjoyed knowing that I was a part of something that will hopefully help the homeless and help people gain a better understanding of their challenges with depression, addiction, trauma and other mental health issues.

What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?

At times, things will seem tough and impossible. Keep going. Also, never compromise your artistic integrity. Not everything needs to follow a Hollywood mold.

What’s next for you?

As a producer, I helped with this film and I learned about the craft of filmmaking. I would love to learn more and eventually try my hand at it.