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National Film Board's "Play it Safe" series offers a new look at street life

kim hart macneill

Above I’ve embedded Lacey’s Story, one of the films in the National Film Board’s Playing It Safe series. If you can’t see it, click here to watch it on the NFB website.

Documentaries about drug use and life on the street can easily become depressing cautionary tales. The NFB’s website Playing It Safe avoids this type of tired cliche by offering at-risk youth a chance to make their own films. The project paired at-risk youth and peer filmmakers from Vancouver and Edmonton. As Vancouver prepares for the 2010 Olympic Games, these aren’t the  kinds of stories the city wants to the world to hear.

Being at once the filmmaker and the subject of the documentary, the people in these films tell honest, thoughtful stories. They talk about the different paths that led them to the streets, and speak openly about both the positive and negative aspects of their lifestyles. Some want to keep using drugs and living on the street, others are going to school and working with other at-risk youth.

Many of the films don’t offer a happy ending, and can’t try to sum-up difficult issues in a simple package. The goal isn’t to scare at-risk youth straight, but to reflect their lives and remind them that they’re not invisible.

There are currently eight films on the site, and more are posted each week.

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