A new Vancouver-made documentary about the dangers of Fentanyl was a “nostalgic journey” for the film’s director.
“As a child, I always remember being fascinated by the unique and tragic world of the Downtown Eastside,” Justin Pelletier told Daily Hive. “I still remember days where my parents would be driving down Hastings and I would be staring out the window, wondering how these people ended up on the streets.”
Pelletier is the director of The Street Preacher: a story that follows Vancouver graffiti artist Smokey D, who – after losing his longtime girlfriend to a fentanyl overdose – decides to use his art as a medium to warn others of the drug and its dangers.
The idea for the documentary came about after Pelletier and the film’s producer, fellow Vancouverite Adam Maruniak, “stumbled upon” Smokey D’s story and Pelletier was immediately drawn to it.
“He’s a mysterious character with a tragic past and an unexplainable will to spread his message,” Pelletier furthered. “When [Maruniak] showed me Smokey D’s story and what he was doing with his art, I knew we had to document it.”
And while the film mainly focuses on one person’s story, Pelletier acknowledged all the Downtown Eastside he met while creating the film.
“I feel like these people get stigmatized and discriminated against just because of their situation,” he explained. “These are people just like you and me who have good hearts and kind souls. Thank you to Smokey D for showing us that.”
For those who see the film, Pelletier hopes it will be another tool in helping educate people about the issues that contribute to the Downtown Eastside.
“It’s an incredibly complex, systemic issue that can be fixed with awareness, strategy and action,” Pelletier said. “The more people know, the more likely they are to contribute to the solution.”
Also, he said, “don’t do drugs. Especially in this climate –it could cost you your life.”