People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am
Torontoist has been acquired by Daily Hive Toronto - Your City. Now. Click here to learn more.



People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am

Boris Gerrets (Netherlands, International Spectrum)

Wednesday, May 4, 7:15 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 (350 King Street West)
Friday, May 6, 4 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 (350 King Street West)

In People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am, Filmmaker Boris Gerrets heads into the streets of London armed with a cellphone camera and a preoccupation with the question “what would it be like to enter into the life of a complete stranger?” Gerrets chances on two characters: Sandrine, a beautiful Brazilian woman who has come to London to snag a husband and find a better life for herself and her five-year-old son, and Steve, a one-legged drug addict living and begging on the streets. Sandrine and Steve are both eerily comfortable in front of Gerret’s cell-phone-camera-lens, and both draw him so far into their lives that the boundary between filmer and filmed dissolves. Gerret is soon sleeping with Sandrine (who is juggling seven potential husbands already), and filming Steve naked and post-coital with his new girlfriend Precious (a drunk, washed up poet).
There are a lot of ways in which People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am is a really beautiful and compelling film. Gerrets’s subject matter chimes nicely with the grainy, poor quality of the cellphone camera, and the film navigates a fine balance between documenting loneliness and betraying the filmmaker’s own apparent hunger for life. Where the film begins to parody itself is in its captions: statements (not always grammatically sound ones) periodically unfolding across the screen in white text on a black background. These sometimes divulge factual information (which is useful) but other times offer a running commentary from the directory telling us how to feel about what we are seeing (which is obnoxious).
If you’re looking for a typical documentary, People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am probably isn’t for you. If you’re looking to spend 50-some-odd minutes treading some arty, European waters while thinking about loneliness and beauty, this might be your bag.