USA | 2022 Directors: Elisa Levine & Gabriel Miller
In the cinéma vérité style of documentary filmmaking Elisa Levine and Gabriel Miller feature life and death on Seattle's Aurora Avenue infamous for prostitution and drug deals in SWEETHEART DEAL. One explanation of cinéma vérité comes from the French wording for “truth cinema”. It is a style of filming from the1960s called a "French film movement" that showed people in everyday situations with authentic dialogue and acting natural. Thus, it's filming people that have no script to read nor told how to perform.
The film audience is like a fly-on-the-wall as Levine and Miller receive unprecedented access to a world rarely made public, with an addition of a unique revelation in storytelling they could have never predicted.
Levine and Miller note that even though the Pacific Northwest has become famous as a prosperous tech hub, "Opioid addiction has skyrocketed into a crisis of epic proportions, touching all communities." Some studies explore a possible link between drug addiction and the breakdown of social connection where possibly then one looks for love in all the wrong places and will spiral down into a life undesirable. Adding, "The danger of opioid addiction and what makes stripes like Aurora Avenue North a perfect breeding ground for predators (pimps, violent john's and dealers) is because they know exactly how to capitalize on the weaknesses of those struggling with addition."
Levine and Miller follow four sex workers on the streets of Seattle over a seven year period, all of whom have a connection to what was presented, to each of them, as a promising haven-of-rest from the life and their addiction daily. On the road to rebuilding their life, the four take refuge from a man and in his RV, located near their work, who offers friendship and a reprieve from life on the streets. When a new girl joins the group, the revelation of this man's past and betrayal of each woman solidifies their bond in order to bring him to justice.
The SWEETHEART DEAL is an intimate portrayal of hope, heartbreak and resilience with remarkable women who choose to survive, after one more mistrusting soul has shattered their dreams. It's also a true-to-life narrative of the basic human need for genuine connection, support, and love and the will to take on adversity and rise above it.