The enlightened screen: hugh gibson

October 14, 2017

Carleton University, Richcraft Hall



Hugh Gibson              Canada 2016 | 95 minutes

“Hugh Gibson's compassionate and profoundly affecting The Stairs takes us inside Toronto's Regent Park Community Health Centre, whose staff of social workers includes both former and current drug users. These workers understand all too well what their clients are going through. Shot over five years, Gibson's film focuses on three staff members: the loquacious, seemingly tireless Marty, who was so addicted at one point that, after being shot in a deal that went south, he stopped for a hit before going to the hospital; Roxanne, a former sex worker whose tales of life in the trade are beyond harrowing; and Greg, a biracial child of the 1960s consumed with a long-delayed legal case hinging on a police officer's use of excessive force. As it draws us closer to Gibson's subjects, The Stairs challenges prejudices and preconceived notions. It also underlines how tentative sobriety and stability can be for people who have lived in addiction for years. … As the film progresses, Gibson subtly builds a wide-ranging portrait of the conditions that can nurture addiction, most notably poverty and homelessness. In its nuance, social conscience, and moving affection for its subjects, The Stairs is a worthy continuation of the tradition set by the NFB's legendary Unit B.”  Steve Gravestock (Toronto International Film Festival)

The Canadian Film Institute’s ongoing guest artist series featuring Canada’s best contemporary filmmakers kicks off its 2017-2018 season with Hugh Gibson, an award-winning Toronto director, writer, and producer. CFI audiences will recall that we’ve recently presented two of Gibson’s previous films at our Latin American Film Festival, A PLACE CALLED LOS PEREYRA (2009), which Gibson co-produced in Argentina, and TOMB WITH A VIEW (2014), his insightful short film about a high-rise cemetery in Brazil. 

Back in January, THE STAIRS captured the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award at the Toronto Film Critics Association, a prestigious $100,000 award whose previous winners include Atom Egoyan and Denis Villeneuve. 

Hugh Gibson will attend the screening to introduce and discuss his film, and will be joined by a number of representatives of local community groups dealing with issues of poverty, homelessness, and addiction.