For the duration of the 25th anniversary edition of the Images Festival (site), Toronto's second oldest film festival and the largest festival in North America for experimental and independent moving image culture, we're presenting three films from the program worldwide — and for free!
goes behind the tempered plastic partition of a pharmacy in Vancouver's notorious Downtown East Side. There, a demure pharmacist (Shauna Hansen) hands out carefully measured doses of liquid methadone to recovering addicts, who must down it front of her daily, as an attempt to curb abuse of the drug.
Produced by the Toronto-based Medium Density Fibreboard Films, East Hastings Pharmacy continues the studio's aesthetic tradition of using nonprofessionals (in this case, residents of the Downtown East Side) in the service of some neo-neo-realist drama that doesn't so much blur the line between fiction and documentary as exceed both categories. Like an aww-shucks Nurse Ratchet, Hansen's pharmacist struggles to maintain order, especially in the face of an unseen coworker who's more accommodating to the wants of the daily lineup of ex-addicts. East Hastings Pharmacy carefully, gently probes the limitations of professional responsibility and power. It's a gripping watch, wondrously despondent without ever seeming miserable.
In Monique Moumblow's short, Charles, a young man delivers a monologue in Danish outlining a chronic series of disturbing actions and strange behavioral patterns attributed to his brother, Charles; and in Puhelinkoppi (1882-2007), Hope Tucker documents the final days of the last public phone booths in Finland.
The festival runs through Saturday, April 21, so you'll want to watch these innovative films now!