January 24, 2017 12:48 pm
Challenging and ethically complex, James describes Stevie as "The hardest film I've made. Also the most honest. And the saddest."
A modern documentary masterpiece, lauded as "Brave...courageous and powerful...deeply sorrowful and impossible to forget," by Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, Stevie was named as one of the top 25 essential documentaries of the decade in a list by popular online critic Marilyn Ferdinand. NewCity Film critic Ray Pride listed Stevie as #19 in his ranking of the decade's best films in any genre, with only one other documentary placing higher. Filmsweep listed Stevie as #5 on their list of the decade's best documentaries.
Watch the trailer:
In 1995, filmmaker Steve James returns to Pomona, a beautiful rural hamlet in Southern Illinois to reconnect with Stevie Fielding, for whom James once served as an advocated Big Brother. He finds that the once difficult, awkward child has become––ten years later––an angry and troubled young man. Part way through filming, Stevie is arrested and charged with a serious crime. He confesses to the crime and then later recants. The filmmaker himself is drawn into the film as he tries to sort out his own feelings, past and present, about Stevie and how to deal with him in the wake of his arrest. What was to be a modest profile of Stevie, turns into an intimate four and a half year chronicle of a dysfunctional family's struggle to heal.
Stevie was awarded the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at the 2002 IDFA, the Mayor's prize at the 2003 Yamagata Film Festival, and the Excellence in Cinematography Award at Sundance 2003. The film was distributed in theaters by Lionsgate and gained critical acclaim.
Steve James was interviewed by Thom Powers in 2011, after a Stranger Than Fiction screening at IFC Center in New York, and reveals many details about the making of the film, the response of Stevie's family to watching it, and Stevie's life after the film.
Stevie is also available for purchase on DVD here.