Toronto filmmaker Jesse McCracken is premiering his short film Steve at Bloor Hot Docs Film Festival. Named Steve after McCracken’s foster brother, the film explores what it’s like for him to be separated from his birth parents at age 22.
“I think it says a lot about foster care, not about what foster care does or anything but it’s to let these kids shed light about what it’s like to be in foster care and what it’s like to be taken away from their parents,” says McCracken.
Following his interest in film and photography which began in high school, McCracken moved from Markdale, Ont. to Toronto to study film and TV at Humber College.
Nestled somewhere between Owen Sound and Orangeville, Markdale is a small town of around 1,300 people, where Steve still lives.
Steve was filmed in two days last spring while McCracken was visiting his parent’s home. He directed and produced it on a zero dollar budget. Using his own camera and sound equipment, McCracken says he shot scenes that set it apart from traditional documentaries.
“It doesn’t have traditional B-roll. You don’t see things that support what he’s (the main character) is saying. The scenes are in different places around our home town. I didn’t want to get too personal with it. I just wanted to present it as a portrait. You see him, you see his face, and you hear him talking, ” he says.
Living with Steven through his teenage years at home, along with other foster children, McCracken says he doesn’t think many kids who are in foster care talk about their experience.
Youth Program Coordinator at the YMCA, Julie Schollenberg agrees.
“They don’t talk about it cause they don’t understand what’s going on. They don’t understand what they did wrong or why they are moving from foster home to foster home… By the time they’re 15, 16, 17 they just don’t trust anyone. They’ve been to 6, 7, 8 or 30 foster homes, so for them what’s the point in talking about it? It’s all the same,” says Schollenberg.
In 2011, 29,590 foster children aged 14 and under were living in private Canadian households. The 2011 census was the first census to count foster children.
Steve is McCracken’s debut as director to Bloor Hot Docs Film Festival. His first official Hot Docs official selection Chance Encounters premiered at 2011’s festival.
Tickets to Steve are already on sale, with screenings on April 26, 28 and May 4.
You can view the official trailer here.