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Produced by Viateur Castonguay
Les Films Tango, 1991. VHS cassette, 32:00 min., $99.00. Distributed by Bourdon Audiovisuel Inc., 5215 rue Berri, 3e etage, Montreal, Que. H2J 2S4.

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Howard Hurt

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

The strategy of this powerful video could not be more straightforward. After a minimal introduction by the host, Paul Sarrasin, the camera is turned on a clutch of dropouts who seem to have arrested their slide into the sleazy street life of drugs, prostitution or violence.

The point is made that an ever greater proportion of the homeless is composed of young people, but no effort is made to answer theoretical questions of sociology or economics. This is simply advice from one kid to another. Still, for the adult viewer, it is troubling and frightening to see such a collection of obviously decent children who have fallen through the cracks in society.

The message is simple and practical and is bluntly delivered without much emotion. It recognizes that there are convincing reasons such as abuse, the initial pleasures of dope, and friendships that pull kids away from dysfunctional families to the street. The video goes on to point out, however, that runaways often experience a terrible isolation. When the time comes, they stress, it is up to the individual to initiate the process of getting back into society by way of group shelters, schools and occupational training programs.

This video was not produced to promote discussion about a problem. The words are straight from dropouts to their buddies. This video is a tool for streetworkers in Montreal and other francophone centres.

However, having said that, I can see ways that it could be used with imagination by leaders working outside the target group. Public libraries in francophone areas, for instance, might use it to give their patrons a glimpse of a phenomenon that should trouble mainstream society. Schools in Quebec could use it for Guidance classes. In other provinces, French Immersion teachers could present it to social studies or language classes to create meaningful discussion about current affairs or street French.

Howard Hurt is a librarian in the Faculty of Education Curriculum Laboratory at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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