Doing the right thing isn’t as easy as it seems, in fact, sometimes it can be really hard.
That’s something Sean Horlor expects people to take away from Someone Like Me, the feature documentary he co-directed with his partner Steve J. Adams, which is playing at the Victoria Film Festival.
Their first feature film follows the story of Drake, a gay asylum seeker fleeing violence in Uganda, and well-meaning strangers from Vancouver’s queer community who are tasked with supporting his resettlement in Canada. The group’s differing assumptions on Drake’s best interests challenges their commitment and adds pressure to his first year as a newcomer in Vancouver.
The film’s beginning came at an impasse. While Horlor watched anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiments grow online, he also saw others rallying to help newcomers find a safe home in Canada.
The doc dives into its subjects’ personal struggles, but the pandemic uprooting production and forcing them to shoot themselves with an iPhone adds parts with an extra layer of unfiltered and raw emotion.
“When you’re filming someone with a crew of people, that’s a different experience than someone taking a phone and saying ‘This is my life, this is how I see my life,’” Horlor said. “It’s a level of intimacy that you don’t get a lot of the time.”
Horlor grew up in Cordova Bay and went to the University of Victoria, where he unsuspectingly found his passion after being introduced to documentary filmmaking.
“It’s so funny that that’s what I ended up doing for my career, so Victoria started it.”
Making Someone Like Me had him reflect on his youth and marching in Victoria’s Pride parade – which is unmatched in his opinion – as an openly gay man, and how that compares to the experience of Drake and so many others in the LGBTQ+ community who are still criminalized in places across the globe just for being who they are.
“This is a freedom and a privilege and to see the other side of what it’s like for queer people in other countries makes Steve and I feel really fortunate to live here.”
Horlor said it was rewarding to watch Drake navigate the challenges of restarting his life, plus the pandemic, and through it all see the young man never lose his vibrancy and huge personality. Horlor and Adams weren’t allowed to connect with Drake before he arrived. When he heard about the project through his sponsor group, he wanted to be involved.
“For him to say ‘yes’ and say, ‘I want to share this story because I think it’s going to help other people overseas and in Canada see what this process is like,’ we were so lucky.”
The doc, Horlor said, will resonate with anyone who’s committed to, or is nervous about committing to supporting someone going through a difficult time in their life.
“Doing the right thing can be really hard sometimes, but it’s still worthwhile to do it.”
Someone Like Me plays at the Capitol 6 Theatres at 1 p.m. on Feb. 5. Tickets can be found on the festival’s website (https://bit.ly/3G8xJiP).
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