Occasionally dour, but unflinchingly empathetic, Hugh Gibson’s The Stairs gives a startlingly intimate look at three habitual drug users who also work as social workers in Toronto’s Regent Park. The “stairs” of the title are a literal stairwell where much illicit activity takes place, but also serve as a potent symbol of the past that those featured are trying to break from.
The three subjects are captivatingly – and often disturbingly – honest, with the larger issues of police violence and conditions for sex workers being touched on as we trace their lives over a two year period. As one states, this isn’t a film about happy endings, but instead one that capably illuminates the minor victories and major limitations of current social programs, while observing the near herculean efforts of those trying to break lifelong addictions.
Monday Sept. 12, 9:45pm @ Bloor Hot Docs
Wednesday Sept. 14, 6:30pm @ Scotiabank 11
Friday Sept. 16, 3:15pm @ Jackman Hall