I Am Another You

I Am Another You ★★★★½

Documentary film maker Nanfu Wang left her native China in 2011 to find the elusive freedom of expression that she needed for her art. She settled in New York City; but returned to China to make an important documentary, Hooligan Sparrow, following a group of dissidents from city to city, and herself getting into trouble and barely escaping with her smuggled tapes.

But prior to her Chinese adventure, she had taken her video camera to Florida, and by chance hooked up with a young homeless man, Dylan Olsen. Wang learned that Olsen came from a Mormon family, his father was a detective, he had a younger brother and sister. Wang decided to accompany Olsen for a while, experiencing the personable boy's homelessness and itinerant lifestyle (the ultimate expression of the freedom she emigrated for) along with him, and openly taping his encounters, mostly with surprisingly friendly, open and generous people. She eventually left him on the road; and after her film making adventure in China, she decided to search for Dylan's roots in Utah.

She did find his family; and hooked up with Dylan again for another extended encounter. The resulting film was surprisingly moving and illuminating, with Dylan as vagabond and street poet...and incidentally Dylan as poster boy for the millions of mentally ill homeless in America. Ms. Wang had fortuitously tapped into a subculture that has been crying out to be seen; and her alien sensibility was the ideal vessel to experience it with.