78 minutes – Documentary
Release Date: Nov 28, 2008
Distributor: Alliance Vivafilm
For the down-and-out residents of Edmonton’s grim and unforgiving inner city, pawnbroker David Woolfson is a banker of last resort. A grouchy old guy with a mushy heart, Jewish immigrant from South Africa, he’s been running the store for nearly 16 years. Not that he needs to. But he truly enjoys his customers, most of them regulars, people full of wit and black humour. Poverty has taught them how to survive. An unlikely friendship develops when, one day, Chris Hoard, a young Aboriginal man and ex-con, shows up and offers his help. Filled with pain and rage after a childhood of abuse at the hands of an adoptive white family, Chris begins to hang around the shop. Before long, he is put to work doing odd jobs – cleaning, shelving and tagging goods – for free. As David puts it: “It’s a sweet deal for me.”
Broke is a complex, powerful cinema verite account of the day-to-day life in a pawnshop. The documentary gives us an intimate glimpse into a world most of us luckily do not have to know. Although often as funny and surprising as a sitcom, the film takes a dispassionate look at the hardships and desperation of the marginalized.
Broke was Winner Best Documentary at the 2009 AMPIA Awards.