Programmed by Claire Simon
While a graduate student in Illinois, Steve James volunteered as Advocate Big Brother to teenager Stevie Fielding. Though they had lost touch, ten years later Steve returns to check in on his young friend and finds him at a turbulent crossroads in his life. Stevie has been charged with molesting a young family member, an accusation that has amplified the discord that already exists among his extended family. Reentering his life as both a filmmaker and friend, Steve hopes to be a supportive figure to Stevie as he navigates these difficult circumstances.
Stevie is a quite singular film in which the director is one of the film’s actors in his own right. He is the ‘Big Brother’ from the past, who comes back, worried and guilty for having left young Stevie, turbulent, delinquent and victim, to experience ever-increasing difficulties that sent him to prison, to commit new crimes after his release. Steve James accompanies Stevie through his quest and his life, and the film offers us an insight into the difficult situations that Stevie creates, confronts and develops, through Steve’s responsible impulse. The camera films both characters, the director and the protagonist, alternating delves into Stevie’s nightmares and the gaze but also the help Steve James, film director and citizen, tries to offer him, with a particular focus on his ardent dream to save Stevie from his own hell. Here, we can see one of documentary cinema’s farthest limits, via which the director plays a dual role: film and social responsibility. Rather than a film for film’s sake, it’s a film for Stevie.