Directed By: Steve James
Starring: Steve James, Stephen Fielding, Tonya Gregory
Trivia: Stevie was the winner of numerous festival awards including the 2002 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival's
In the mid-1980s, filmmaker Steve James worked as a volunteer in the Big Brother program, during which time he served as friend and counselor to an 11-year-old boy named Stephen Fielding, called "Stevie" by everyone who knew him. Stevie was a troubled child, drifting in and out of foster homes, sometimes facing crippling abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to be caring for him. After 10 years, James decided to track Stevie down, to see what had become of his former “little brother”. What he found formed the basis of Stevie, a fascinating, yet ultimately alarming, documentary.
We the audience are transformed from passive observer to active participant when, as the cameras continue to roll, a troubling revelation bubbles to the surface. We follow along as Stevie deals with the terrible consequences of his actions, and it’s to director James’ credit that, from start to finish, he paints as complete a picture of his subject as possible, in spite of his personal attachment to the story. Throughout Stevie, we’re introduced not only to those who love Stevie Fielding, but some who aren’t so fond of him as well, and it’s through this intensive exploration that we get a sense of who this young man is, and why he acts the way he does.
There are those who will immediately lose any sympathy they may have felt for Stevie Fielding the moment his transgression…strike that, his crime… is divulged. Yet this disconnect doesn’t entirely diminish one’s emotional response to the plight of this disturbed young man, who is clearly a victim himself. There have been volumes written on the fragility of youth, and how deep-seated traumas suffered as a child might severely alter an individual’s personality. With Stevie, director James reveals, sometimes painfully, just how accurate these theories are.