A documentary about youth in the child welfare system, created by former youth in care, will premiere to a sold-out audience at a prominent Toronto theatre.
The Youth In Care Project will screen on Nov. 16 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on King Street. The film sold out in less than a month, with more than 350 tickets sold.
“The success in ticket sales exemplifies the excitement behind such a necessary conversation that youth and service members have long waited for,” said Jessica Osolky, a cast member of the film and the PR Communications Manager for Project Outsiders.
The Youth In Care Project is a documentary film produced by a non-profit organization called Project Outsiders.
What is Project Outsiders?
Project Outsiders is a non-profit organization that uses all its platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and X) to share and spread awareness about of the child-welfare and foster-care system through lived experiences. The organization’s members created a podcast and video prior to producing the documentary.
Osolky said the organization aims to be “the tool that helps the youth be their own heroes,” by building capacity, autonomy and leadership in the youth it engages with.
Chanice McAnuff, founder of Project Outsiders and executive producer of the documentary, started the organization to create change within the child-welfare system.
McAnuff grew up in foster care, and saw a “growing gap” between the young people and decision makers.
Former social worker, Sherisse Edwards, said there is a side to foster care that is “broken, with red tape and outdated policies.” She said the system needs to “keep up with the changing times and look at all factors.”
“Factors to consider are race, religion, sexuality, cultural background and more,” she says. “The youth are impressionable and will often mimic what they see and hear, the system is built for success, but still needs to develop alongside the world.”
‘The Youth In Care Project’
The Youth In Care Project film centres four different people who share common experiences within the Canadian child-welfare system. It will emphasize the triumphs, goals and journeys of its subjects throughout the film.
McAnuff said she wants the documentary to “illuminate the experiences of young people in care.”
She said that throughout the process of filming, which took a year to complete, “it has been both challenging and rewarding.
“We had to face many ethical and philosophical questions surrounding what was the right thing to do at various points throughout the process of making the documentary.”
Compassion, collaboration and unification
McAnuff said it was a challenge finding a balance of authentic expression through personal experience and saying too much, where the viewer would no longer listen because it would be uncomfortable.
But in the end, she said the film’s goal is to make a statement and take a risk to ‘hopefully make a difference.”
Osolky said the film is a crucial moment for the youth and service providers as it shows the importance of compassion, collaboration and unification.
The Nov. 16 ‘The Youth In Care Project’ screening at TIFF Bell Lightbox has increased the theatre capacity by 200 people. General Admission tickets are still available on their website.