THE National Film Board documentary Who Cares? offers a desultory glimpse into the lives of a few Edmonton prostitutes or ex-prostitutes as they struggle with addiction, serious emotional issues and some painful histories.
It's rough going. Some of the footage is shot by the women themselves on cellphone cameras. Some footage is shot by director Rosie Dransfeld in an Edmonton bar frequented by some of her subjects.
It's all bracketed by footage of homicide detectives who seem to drive endless circles on Edmonton's streets, registering women with Project KARE, a service whereby women have their pictures taken, offer DNA samples via donated strands of hair, and submit contact information of their next of kin "in the tragic event" (as one cop unfailingly phrases it) they are ever discovered murdered.
Dransfeld doesn't capture the violence of life on the streets, but it seems to permeate every frame of the film. As a detective says, a woman on the street can be victimized from johns, pimps and other prostitutes.
It's a shame the film is, from a strictly formal perspective, a mess. Who Cares? should raise alarm bells at a time when the issue of missing women is so very pertinent. This microcosm view of the problem doesn't seem to follow through on any of the women's stories. The police, no matter how noble their intentions, cop to the fact that Project KARE doesn't actually do anything to protect the women they register. The movie ends with footage of a glorious sunset but leaves us wanting a conclusion that offers something a little more tangible in the way of a dream of a better tomorrow.
Rosie Dransfeld, recovering addict Courtney Heather and Edmonton police officer Russ Hewson will attend tonight's screening at 7 p.m. and participate in a panel afterward along with members of the Winnipeg Police and RCMP. Attendees are invited to show up early to the Artspace lobby to donate funds and/or winter clothing to several community outreach groups who help Winnipeg women.
Directed by Rosie Dransfeld
2 1/2 out of five stars