THE RIVER YOU STEP IN... explores themes of loyalty and betrayal as it follows the efforts of a maverick social worker as she tries to mend some broken lives.
When a young First Nations client dies after she commits her to police custody, Stevie Vandervliet struggles to keep the troubled people she works with away from the system she no longer trusts.
George, an ex-con and chronic gambler, Tracy, an addicted musician, and then Mina, a battered wife – Stevie masks her own issues by burying herself in theirs.
“I’d say get a life,” says her paramedic boyfriend Ben, “but you already have more than one!” Only when she violently defends Mina against her abusive husband Karl – is Stevie confronted with the real dangers of crossing professional boundaries.
Astrid Van Wieren as Stevie (photo by Chloe Whitehorn)
“'As a social worker whose life is spinning out of control, Astrid Van Wieren gives a masterful performance. The ironic story and its telling are like something out of Flannery O'Connor. '
Rose Cullis, Playwright, Toronto
“It's a wonderful story. Full of compassion, and this movie intertwined the characters enough so we could experience Stevie crossing her own boundaries and getting personally attached… a tricky line…Great work, I loved the characters and the actors, the camera work and locations!”
Lianne Ritchie, 51westdesign, NYC
“Strong performances - This film creates a lot of tension, all the way through, as it explores violence against women and the institutional blindness to this issue, and how this seeps into a world view and shapes experiences and relationships.”
Carolyn Combs, Director, Vancouver, BC
“The River You Step In is a resonant exploration of the power of listening, the costs and rewards of caring, the pain of losing, and the grace of learning to move on. Stevie's journey towards acceptance speaks to all of us who have ever had to find a way to come to terms with the mistakes of our past. “
Erica Warmbrunn, NYC, author, Where The Pavement Ends
I was totally engaged the whole way through, following the three, even four lives that Stevie works on saving...and the one she lost. And of course it's about the emotional cost, the selflessness, dedication, frustration and pain involved for Stevie and professionals like her to do their job. Stevie indeed had a purpose outside of herself, to paraphrase one of the lines I loved from the movie. I got so involved in the story - I responded to the abused woman's story for sure, with the cute husband who becomes a monster. I liked Stevie's slice of life, her gutsy but caring personality, her boyfriend, her clothes, loved the music too. And I also enjoyed glimpses of that Toronto neighborhood. The movie's "local color" was appealing to me as well.
Sharon Deutch, San Mateo, California
"I think the script is brilliant, a real film with real characters...raw and funny and scary and complex, just like life is." Assistant Director Paco Bermudez
“Great Indie script! Edgy, tragic, funny in all the right spots - real characters and a story about real life! “ Agent Sandie Newton
"Super heart wrenching and dynamic, a real page turner that second half! Wow! I held my breath at times, even said No! out loud. Great tension and suspense and reveal. I love it." Producer Laura Nordin
This movie was created in part to feature compelling female lead characters. I mean, come on! Yes!
Another inspiration for this piece was Leslieville. It's our neighbourhood, and I'm proud to be part of a movie set here that explores the gritty, human inter-connectedness of us all. An urban story - the good and the bad, the strong and those longing to be so.
-Astrid Van Wieren