Through a Blue Lens is an award winning 2003 documentary about drug addicts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, it was directed by Veronica Mannix and produced in conjuction with the National Film Board of Canada and 22 minutes of the film consists of footage shot by a group of Vancouver police officers.
The film focuses on interactions between police and drug users from the area over the course of a year, some reviewers noted that as a result of the interactions the police became more sympathetic to the plight of the drug users. Some of the drug users developed a greater level of self esteem as a result of the interactions with the police officers and have since cleaned up.
The idea for the film originated when the producers of another documentary titled Down Here (1997) met two police officers during filming who had been documenting the addicts through the use of photography and using the photographs in schools in drug prevention campaigns. The officers asked the producers to teach them how to use a camera, they started shooting and were subsequently sending footage to Mannix for screening and feedback.
Following a successful pitch to the National Film Board of Canada, the police officers and Mannix teamed up to produce a full documentary, it used both footage shot by the Mannix team and the police officers.
There have been a number of other great documentaries about the problem of homelessness and drug addiction in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, check out Wastings & Pain next.