Nanfu Wang is a very gutsy documentarian. In her previous film, Hooligan Sparrow, she put herself in extreme danger by documenting one of China’s most famous women’s rights activists taking on the government. In her latest film, she risks less, but still makes herself central to the story. I Am Another You is her story of getting to know a young homeless man named Dylan. He’s handsome, charming, and open to having her hang out with him as he lives on the streets in Florida. She’s initially fascinated by his lifestyle choice and his take on freedom, but she eventually realizes that he is not the lucky free spirit she thought he was. This smart and eye-opening film takes you on her journey of discovery as it reveals Dylan’s sad truth.

When she meets Dylan and starts hanging out with him, Nanfu tries to understand why everyone they meet wants to take care of him and help him. He’s not your typical homeless guy. He’s cute and outgoing and blonde. And he’s able to take care of himself and her. Strangers take them in for the night and buy them food. Some even give him money. But eventually Nanfu becomes less fascinated and moves on with her life.

Then some time later, when she finds herself in Utah for the opening of her film Hooligan Sparrow, she decides to look up Dylan’s family who live there and see if they know how he’s doing. There she gets an entirely different take on Dylan and his life. It becomes clear that he has some mental health problems. Nanfu is surprised, but admits that she entirely ignored the signs. Dylan’s policeman father tells her the story of his son’s drug addiction and his leaving home. It is hearthbreaking the way he tells it, and anyone with addiction or mental health issues in their family will feel his pain as he talks about letting Dylan go. Dylan does come home for a bit while she’s there, but the film ends with him back in Florida. He is living with a girl and seems happy, but he acknowledges that he is schizophrenic. He hears voices and uses alcohol to quiet them. The scene where he has his outsider friends demonstrate for Nanfu what it’s like to hear voices is just plain brilliant. It’s a very sad, thought provoking, and extremely well-done doc. I highly recommend this one.

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