On the Corner
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 95 min
On the Corner Productions Inc.
Randy (Simon Baker), an aboriginal teen, has left his reserve in Prince Rupert and come to Vancouver in search of his father and his older sister, Angel (Alex Rice). Angel, an addict and prostitute who barely manages to get by on her own, is unsettled by Randy’s appearance at the Downtown East Side hotel where she lives. She tries to convince Randy to return home, but he becomes drawn to the gritty urban lifestyle. After spending a few days making money collecting bottles with the elderly Floyd (Gordon Tootoosis), Randy succumbs to hard drugs and falls for Angel’s best friend Stacey (Katherine Isabelle).
As Angel contemplates fleeing her situation, Randy is seduced by it. He is attracted to the fast money promised by dealing drugs and begins spiralling out of control; he strikes a dangerously tenuous arrangement with a local dealer and an even more hazardous friendship with Stacey’s addict boyfriend Cliffie (JR Bourne). After a violent confrontation with Cliffie, Angel wants to leave the city for good, but, having discovered the truth about his father, Randy may be too far gone to come with her.
Director Nathaniel Geary drew on his years working at the Portland Hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (where much of the film takes place) for this impressive, deeply felt debut feature. Featuring raw, compassionate performances from an engaging ensemble cast, the film deftly delineates the cycles that keep people bound in desperate situations despite their profound desire to escape – while simultaneously finding humanity in these direst of conditions.
On the Corner was named Best Western Canadian Feature Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival and JR Bourne’s performance earned the Best Supporting Actor award from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. The film was also voted one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2003 by an independent, national panel comprised of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals.