Own The Stairs for home use.
Features: Closed captioning for the hearing impaired (English or French), and optional French subtitles. Running time: 95 mins.
Institutional use sold separately (library, educational, agency)
INSTITUTIONS in USA: Click HERE to order from Grasshopper Film
Winner: Toronto Film Critics Association - Best Canadian Film
The Stairs tells the story of Marty, Greg and Roxanne, who each survived decades of street-involvement. Using their experiences to ease the paths of others, they perform social work in their old neighbourhood, while struggling to maintain their newly-found stability. Told over five years, The Stairs examines life on society’s margins. Defying stereotypes through intimate portraits, its remarkable subjects are surprising, funny, shocking and moving.
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Meet The Filmmakers
Hugh gibson | DIRECTOR
A graduate of York University (BFA: Film), Gibson participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus (’05), TIFF’ s Talent Lab (’06) and TIFF STUDIO (’12). Selected credits include writing/directing the acclaimed short drama, Hogtown Blues (’04: TIFF, Bilbao: Audience Award), and producing short doc A Tomb with a View (’14: TIFF, VIFF). He produced A Place Called Los Pereyra (’09, IDFA, RIDM, BAFICI), which screened extensively in Latin America and Canada. The Stairs is his feature debut as director. He lives in Toronto.
ALAN ZWEIG | EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Alan Zweig is among the most respected directors in Canada. His films include, Hurt (’15), which premiered at TIFF, winning the Platform Prize, and later a Canadian Screen Award for Best Documentary, and When Jews Were Funny, which won Best Canadian film at TIFF (’13). Among his many laurels are a Genie Award for A Hard Name (’09), and career retrospectives at Hot Docs and the Winnipeg Film Group. Other films include There is a House Here, Hope, 15 Reasons to Live, Lovable, I. Curmudgeon, and Vinyl.
RYAN J. NOTH | EDITOR
Multi-platform filmmaker, editor, and producer, whose work has screened at Berlinale, SXSW, Rotterdam and Hot Docs, as well as winning both Genie and Gemini Awards. As director, his short doc, The Road to Webequie premiered at TIFF ('16) and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award, and his short docs, Beyond The Horizon (’15) and A Tomb With A View (’14) also premiered at TIFF. Credits include The National Parks Project, No Heart Feelings and Gros Morne. As a documentary editor, credits include A Place Called Los Pereyra and Tess Girard’s As The Crow Flies.
ANDRES LANDAU | EDITOR
With over 15 years experience, Argentina-native Andres Landau is an award-winning editor and post-supervisor. Recently, he edited Charles Officer’s award-winning, Unarmed Verses ('17). In 2011, he oversaw post-production for The National Parks Project, and edited Sirmilik, the 2012 Genie Award winning short documentary by director Zacharias Kunuk. Selected credits include The Missing Tourist, Cree Code Talker, Mission Asteroid, A Tomb with a View, Warm Man, Dead of Winter, A Simple Rhythm, A Place Called Los Pereyra.
CAM WOYKIN | CAMERA
Born in Calgary, graduate of University of Lethbridge, and York University (MFA: film production). His films, installations, and photography have been exhibited at festivals (including TIFF), galleries, and alternative spaces across Canada and internationally. He maintains an active practice as a media arts instructor, encouraging experimental and hybrid approaches to narrative filmmaking. He previously taught at OCAD, and currently teaches film and video production at the University of New Brunswick.
reviews & PresS
REVERSE SHOT | 12 APR 2018
No Straight Lines
"...Gibson invites us to witness these spaces as its displaced residents would, this so-called “City within a Park” now seeming haunted by all that is unrepresentable within it: the dispersal of the low-income residents that once occupied the space and the eradication of their culture to establish this would-be haven. The marks and presses on the faces of the outreach workers index the abuses perpetrated in this neighborhood, long after this environment itself is purged from the urban landscape. As Greg engages in protracted legal battle with the police officers who assaulted him, his only evidence of the event is a polaroid of the aftermath and a permanent, nasty scar on the side of his face. Similarly, Marty’s apartment, with its cloistered bric-a-brac, memorializes the area, those who’ve passed away (their funeral cards and obituaries scattered across his fridge) and his own advances over time (the hundreds of Bob Marley T-shirts in his closet,
CALGARY HERALD & EDMONTON JOURNAL | 19 JAN 2018
Five Stars (out of 5)
"Director Hugh Gibson spent five years following his subjects for this remarkably clear-eyed and non-judgmental story.
Gibson wisely keeps his focus narrow - there are no police spokespeople and no addiction experts, except those whose expertise comes from experience."
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS | 30 Nov 2017
"Filmmaker finds hope in the haunted but humane souls of outreach workers... this timely, intelligent and important Canadian documentary... give(s) subjects the time and space they need to tell their own stories.
And what stories they are. Marty with his restless energy, Greg with his bursts of rueful self-awareness and Roxanne with her untouchable strength are far more than their addictions. Compassionate and intimate, the film finds its hope in the complicated humanity of its subjects."
GLOBE & MAIL | 24 Nov 2017
Taking Theatrical Distribution into your own hands, literally.
"Who knows how audiences will react in India. It varies by location. In Argentina: shock. South Korea: surprise. In Baltimore, some found it quaint (remarked one viewer, "Nice how the Canadians have due process"). A common thread has been empathy toward the subjects – admiration for their strength, resilience and striving to help each other."
TIMES COLONIST VICTORIA | 28 SEP 2017
"When Toronto filmmaker Hugh Gibson was asked to make a short educational video about programs for street-entrenched people in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood, he learned firsthand how harm reduction works.
“I entered this milieu knowing nothing at all, even though I’m from Toronto,” said Gibson, 36. “But what I saw very quickly was this community dedicated to one another, remarkable individuals who defied stereotypes of being street-involved. And they opened up to me.”
CARBON ARC | Atlantic Film Festival, 16 SEP 2017
"It's a breathtakingly effective way of truly humanizing what we see, and making us do the work ensures that everything in the film will have a life beyond the screen. The Stairs is the kind of experience that you take home with you. When you get there, you'll be a little more aware of what that word actually means."
CBC News | 5 June 2017
"A film that wants to change how we understand life on the streets is screening this week in Waterloo. The Stairs is a documentary by Hugh Gibson, which received awards and accolades after its release at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016."
Georgia straight | 19 April 2017
"When Hugh Gibson began shooting The Stairs in 2011, he didn’t know how his documentary about a group of past and present drug users living in Toronto’s Regent Park was going to end. Through five years of filming, that’s what kept him going: searching for a conclusion.
The award-winning documentary plays at Vancity Theatre beginning this Friday (April 21). It’s a simultaneously gritty but warm portrait of people addicted to drugs."
VIFF Blog | 12 April 2017
"Hugh Gibson’s award-winning documentary The Stairs deservedly joins the ranks of Canada’s finest documentaries. A humanist portrait of drug users in a harm reduction program in Regent Park in Toronto, Gibson avoids sensationalist tendencies and focuses on the people, their personalities, and relies on their insights into a lifestyle often portrayed, but really with such authenticity of insider knowledge.
The result is a rare sort of documentary that doesn’t feel like it’s “on” its subject, but “of” it."
CINEMA SCOPE | 24 MARCH 2017
"Gibson has called The Stairs a “harm-reduction film,” referring to an intervention strategy that aims not at a total cessation of drug use, but something more dynamic and nuanced: a forgoing of short-term solutions by recognizing that addicts are in it for the long haul, rather aiming to minimize harm for both users and their communities.... But The Stairs isn’t a social worker’s manifesto or a recruitment ad; rather, it’s a serious effort to reckon with harm reduction as a storytelling strategy—a way of thinking about addicts, whether currently using or sober, as people with still-evolving narrative trajectories and voices worth hearing, regardless of where they’re standing on the staircase at any given time."
THE TORONTO STAR | 11 JANUARY 2017
"Toronto film critics gave Hugh Gibson’s The Stairs, about habitual drug users in the city’s Regent Park community, the award for best homegrown feature on Tuesday night."
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sarah Polley, who announced the winner, called The Stairs “a huge contribution to the country and to everybody.”
“Because it’s shining a light on something we don’t see and that’s so shockingly inspiring, what these subjects of the documentary are doing, in terms of giving back to their community while facing their own struggles,” she said in an interview.
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