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Oddsquad on the Big Screen

The Vancouver Province

Sunday, November 14, 1999

Through a Blue Lens looks at the lives of six drug addicts in the downtown east side

By Steve Barry, Staff Reporter

Two yearsí work by a group of Vancouver police officers is about to become realityóon a movie screen.

Through a Blue Lens, a documentary movie made by the Odd Squad, debuts on Saturday at the Vogue Theatre at a private showing.

It chronicles the lives and pains of six drug addicts in the downtown east side and the officerís interaction with them.

Moving and upsetting, the gritty, real-to-life film was shot by cops on their beats and during their off hours and by documentary cameraman Daniel Mannix. It was directed by Veronica Mannix with funding from the National Film Board of Canada.

The Odd Squad is a group of seven police officers who volunteered to shoot the film and to lecture on drugs in schools.

They all said the documentary changed the way they viewed the addicts on skid row, making them more human.

Of the six subjects in the film, at least three are now in recovery, some after many years of heavy drug addiction.

Shot over two years, the film has created a stir in recent months.

Stories have been run in newspapers and magazines across Canada, as well as in the New York Times.

It will be shown on CBC televisionís The Magazine on Dec. 8 at 10:25 p.m.

And a crew from ABCís 20/20 is set to produce a story on the Odd Squad and the making of the documentary.

"Iím extremely proud of the policemen and the results of the project," said squad member Const. Toby Hinton. "We hope it will be a good educational tool for the public at large."

Hinton said a shorter version will be cut from the 52-minute film to be shown in schools to Grades 5 through 7.

Director Mannix admitted to some butterflies as the screening date gets closer.

"Itís scary and exciting," she said. "The people that I worked with, the addicts and the officers, wanted to see this film made as badly as I did. I really hope it has an impact on society at large."

Hinton said he wants to make three more videos. One on native youth in the city, another on prostitution, and a third on drinking and driving.

And heís planning a cross-Canada tour to work with other police departments, shooting a nationwide drug awareness video.

The Odd Squad (from left): Len Hollingsworth, Mark Steinkampf, Al Arsenault, Dale Weldman, Dave Kolb, Walt McKay and Toby Hinton.

THE ODD SQUAD - Website

The broadcast of Through A Blue Lens is a synthesis of three dynamic forces; a segment of the Vancouver police force known as The Odd Squad, the NFB and CBC Television. Through A Blue Lens will be broadcast commercial free on CBC Television Wednesday, December 8 at 10:25 pm following The National

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Updated: August 21, 2016