Helping people better themselves no simple task



Photo submitted


Nijole Kuzmickas, right, who directed and wrote Devil Plays Hardball, with Danse, a homeless aboriginal artist.


With more than 2,000 homeless people sleeping in Metro Vancouver bus shelters, doorways and alleys, can one person really make a difference?

That’s the question Vancouver-produced documentary, Devil Plays Hardball, aims to address as it follows four regular people while they each try to help one homeless person turn their life around.

The film, part interventionist documentary, part social experiment, was screened last night at Cinema 319 on Main Street, followed by a panelist discussion with policy makers and academics.

The producer, Audrey Mehler, said the four homeless participants did manage to make headway toward bettering their lives.

The most successful story, she said, was that of 17-year-old, Amanda, who is now training to be a tattoo artist.

"Her mentor showed her somebody cared, that she’s a valuable human being … That gave her the courage to turn her life around," said Mehler.

Vancouver homeless advocate Judy Graves, who coached the mentors, said it was often frustrating for the couples to accept their different priorities and expectations.

In the end, she said, sometimes they were most helpful simply by standing beside them as they dealt with a landlord.

on television

  • Devil Plays Hardball premieres Sunday, March 9, at 10 p.m. on CBC News: The Passionate Eye.