The documentarian Nanfu Wang has an audacious and intimate approach to filmmaking. Her rough-hewn yet rigorous style is on display in the philosophical “I Am Another You,” about a young street kid, Dylan, whom she befriends at a hostel in Florida.
Wang decides to hit the road with Dylan in order to truly understand why he’s chosen the freedom of the road and the hardships that come with the lifestyle. It’s a truly immersive participant observation, as Wang adopts the street life herself in order to fully capture the truth of Dylan’s reality.
Working backward, Wang unfolds Dylan’s story masterfully to reveal how this young man from a middle-class family in Utah came to this transient life. Her attention to the presence of the camera, the apparatus of filmmaking, her own role, and how it affects the truth is derived directly from the the fathers of cinéma vérité, Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin. Wang skirts some of the social issues that allow Dylan to move so easily through the world. She acknowledges the privilege he has in choosing this life, but the issues of race and class are never openly discussed.
However, her gentle but relentless questioning allows for a deep dive into his psychology. “I Am Another You” is a remarkably sensitive and lovely portrait of an individual, a family, and a life that shines an uncommonly humane light on the issues of mental illness and homelessness.
‘I Am Another You’
Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica