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S.P.I.T. was made over a period of over 3 years (over 300 hours of raw footage). From street
level, we worked with hundreds of squeegee kids, punks and anarchists. Together, we filmed
cops, politicians, demonstrations, arrests, parties and riots. We edited for over a
year and blew up the results to 35 mm film for theatrical release. The film contains two
competing points-of-view: filmmaker and subject. Roach was given a video camera
(the RoachCAM) to document his life.
Immediate, honest and direct, the anarcho-punk energy in this film comes directly from
Our guide and co-contributor in this film is a young man named Roach. At age 13,
he ran away from a youth detention centre and began a cycle of living in parks,
abandoned cars, homeless shelters and jail. He faces arrest because of thousands
of dollars in unpaid squeegee tickets and has contracted Hepatitis C from intravenous drug use.
The first time I met Roach he was squeegeeing at one of Montreal’s busiest intersections,
at St. Catherine and St. Denis. I was impressed by his work ethic: smiling and bounding
from car to car, “can I clean your window, spare any change?” a quick scrub of the
windshield, headlights, collect the change and get back to the curb, already looking for
the next set of cars.
After talking with Roach I realized he was a unique individual. He’s respected on the
streets and knows everyone: kids, cops, drug dealers, social workers. Given the RoachCAM
to document his world, Roach immediately recognized the opportunity and began
negotiations expressing his own ideas and goals: “I want to show people that we’re
not garbage”, he said.
For over 2 years Roach has taken his camera everywhere: political events like the Queen’s
Park Throne Speech, the Allan Gardens Occupation, in search for housing, anarchist
gatherings, film festivals, hitchhiking, punk rock shows, funerals, movie theaters,
and every type of strange nocturnal adventure you can imagine. The camera has become
a part of him. “Captain Hook has his hook; I have my camera”, says Roach.
Roach has taken it upon himself to provide a detailed view of a lifestyle that most people only
observe through their windshields while stopped at red lights. He has jumped at the
opportunity to learn filmmaking, while maintaining his sense of responsibility to those
around him. His images are direct, honest, naïve and energetic. He has created his own
instinctual cinematic language: his camera is a diary, a tool to confront authority
figures, and an opportunity to creatively denounce a political system he opposes.
In the process, we see Roach transform from street junkie to media activist.