________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 21 . . . . June 21, 2002

cover Letters to a Street Child.

Andre Cazabon (Writer & Director).
Toronto, ON: Cinemuse Productions (Distributed by Kineticvideo.com, 511 Bloor St. West,
Toronto, ON, M5S 1Y4), 1999.
23 min., VHS, $149.95.

Subject Headings:
Homeless persons-Street life-Video recording.
Drug addicts-Video recording.

Grade 12 and up / Ages 17 and up.

Review by Frank Loreto.

*** /4

This video is based on a true life account of a family torn apart when their daughter, Andree, takes to the streets for two years. It is told as a series of letters from the father to his daughter and re-enactments of Andree's life on the street. The father warns the viewer that what happened to their family can easily happen to anyone. The family is financially comfortable and has done many things together as the father refers to their trip to Acapulco. The daughter, as we learn in the father's letters, did very well in school and received prizes for music and sports.

     What takes her to the street is never really stated, although it is clarified in the booklet which is included with the video.

     The video is graphic in its language and situations. For this reason, it has great power, though some may find it difficult to watch. Two scenes are particularly disturbing. The first involves Andree's inability to remember when, "I pissed my pants." She goes on at length trying to remember if it was last night or the night before, and she asks her partner to remind her the next day to get new pants. Meanwhile, he is so spaced out that he can barely form sentences. When the next day arrives, she is far more keen to get drugs, and her pants are forgotten. She does state that she would be horrified if her parents saw her in soiled pants. However, getting drugs, not pants is her only priority.

     The other scene involves Andree and her friends waiting behind a dumpster for someone to throw garbage in. As soon as their wait is rewarded, the group happily go through the garbage looking for food. One is thrilled to find some pizza.

     Andree is raped at one point and is finally pushed to seek help and be reunited with her family. However, the father knows that parental love is not enough, and he insists that she go away for rehabilitation first. The family knows that two years on the street cannot be magically washed away.

     Letter to a Street Child is sponsored by the Rotary Club and has a clear agenda. There is no happy ending as the video concludes with the father's urging his daughter to use her inner strength to get properly rehabilitated. The accompanying booklet tells the rest of the story.

     As the video is short, it could be used in a single class and still allow time for discussion. The booklet is filled with questions and class related material. Some may find the language too coarse, but any attempts to clean it up would take away from the horror of life on the street.

Recommended with reservations.

Frank Loreto is a teacher-librarian at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364