Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions, English Subtitles
Subjects: Physical and Mental Health Studies
When the opioid crisis in BC escalated to the heights of a public emergency in 2016, folks at the Overdose Prevention Society (OPS) set up a tent in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as a critical frontline response. Technically illegal despite its necessity, the OPS was—and continues to be—a site rooted in harm reduction, where people are able to use drugs safely with supervision.
An intimate observation of the OPS over a number of years, Love in the Time of Fentanyl witnesses the exhausting but essential work required to keep the site running, and the people dedicated to its continuance. We follow Sarah, a founding OPS member and activist, as well as Trey, a former heroin user who memorializes the lives lost to overdose through graffiti art. We accompany frontline workers like Ronnie (also known in the community as “Narcan Jesus”) as he struggles with extreme burnout; Indigenous elder Norma as she cooks meals for staff and volunteers; and Dana, an active fentanyl user whose own experiences with overdose continue to propel him in his efforts to save lives.
The opioid crisis is not over. Six years after it opened its doors, the OPS is as necessary now as it was in 2016, its efforts compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Love in the Time of Fentanyl is a crucial film from director Colin Askey—one that explores, with considerable care and compassion, the frontlines of the ongoing drug-poisoning epidemic in this city.
Official Selection at the 2022 DOCNYC and DOXA, Winner of the Colin Low Award.
"Shot largely in medium- and close-up shots, the film is intimate and revealing—quietly but firmly humanizing drug use and the people who engage in it." - POV Magazine
"For some, Love in the Time of Fentanyl may be frustrating—it doesn’t offer easy answers, but rather a patchwork that admits the war on drugs is lost, partly because of how poverty and mental health are marginalized even in first-world countries. You really cannot fix one without broader changes and a larger social net. The film itself as tender as it is ugly––Askey doesn’t shy away from scenes of explicit drug use, instead he finds speakers like OPS manager Dana who are quite candid about their use and, as veterans of this cycle, they know when it’s time to get more help. With Ronnie they become advocates for a 24-hour-a-day OPS operation, haunted by those they could not save and who instead froze to death before the clinic while overdosing." - The Film Stage
About the filmmaker
DIRECTOR, EDITOR, PRODUCER: Colin Askey is a filmmaker who has spent the last decade documenting the transformative impact of humane policy on the lives of people who use drugs. Recent work includes HAVEN (2019), an award-winning short documentary about North America's first prescription heroin therapy program in Vancouver.