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Love in the Time of Fentanyl 2022

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Collective Eye Films, 1315 SE 20th Ave. #3, Portland OR 97214; 971-236-2056
Produced by Colin Askey, Monika Navarro,Marc Serpa Francoeur, and Robinder Uppal
Directed by Colin Askey
Streaming, 85 mins

College - General Adult
Activism; Drug Addiction

Date Entered: 09/06/2023

Reviewed by Lonnie Frazier, Community Outreach Coordinator, Making Change Media

In the Eastside neighborhood of Vancouver, several activists worked with current and former drug users to create an illegal safe-consumption site called Insite. They were acting in response to the staggering number of overdoses in their community due to fentanyl-contaminated drug supply. They call their organization the Overdose Prevention Society, O.P.S. This collaboration has led to the forward-thinking policies at Insite by providing sanitized injection stalls, clean needles, testing of drugs for fentanyl content, and Narcan for overdoses.

Love in the Time of Fentanyl follows the renegade group of workers of O.P.S. as they help addicts who live on the fringes of society. Ronnie, who is struggling with burnout after watching so many people die from overdoses during his time at O.P.S., Sarah, the activist who founded Insite and who works to spread awareness about the fentanyl crisis, and other volunteers who provide music, food, and art to the people who utilize the Insite facility. In addition to providing a safe space for people struggling with addiction, O.P.S. members are actively involved in advocating for bigger changes by speaking to public officials about the root causes of the fentanyl crisis and the need for more facilities like Insite.

In spite of the grim backdrop of overdose scenes, director Colin Askey finds moments of kindness and camaraderie throughout the film. These are the heartwarming scenes of O.P.S. staff bonding with one another and with drug users sharing stories while using injection booths. These moments remind us that in the face of adversity, human connection and resilience endure. One man reminds us that “the only difference between you and I is one bad decision.” All speak plainly about the challenges of quitting and the dangers of stigmatization.

Love in the Time of Fentanyl shows that drug users, to whom the drug crisis is more than a story on the local news, may be the ones we should look to for solutions to the current epidemic of overdoses. The diversity of stories shared by those at Insite provides a broad view of this drug crisis. The backgrounds, ages, and interest in recovery vary greatly, but one thing is clear: if we hope to repair the disconnect between society’s inaction and the loss of life among users, we need to listen to people who deal with the fentanyl crisis every day.

DOXA Documentary Film Festival: Winner, The Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary, Best Director; Durham Region International Film Festival: Best Documentary; Vox Popular Media Arts Festival: People's Choice Award, Best Film

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.