The modern society is organised based on economic principles. When people stop being ‘economically efficient’, society ‘excludes’ them.


Derek McNeill’s film ‘The Road To Nickelsville’ follows the story of a few selected individuals who have gone homeless and have grouped themselves in a homeless encampment in Seattle (Washington) in order to build a shelter for themselves.


Derek McNeill’s stories are touching. People who have lost their homes are now trying to survive in tents still working whenever they can and whatever they can but earning insufficiently to take them out of the desolated place they have ended up in. The director’s emphasis on each individual story of his chosen subjects is moving through its particular details that highlight the hardships these people have to bear but it also points out to the memories of these characters about their past lives and to their strong desire to regain their comfort which is just as pregnant as their strange habit to their new way of living. Contradictory feelings and a sad emotion of inability emerge to the surface, betraying a lack of solution to escape the ‘crisis’. Society does little for them. The laws of nature apply to everyone – the strong find a way to survive, the weak are treated merciless by faith.


McNeill tells the story with maximum visual impact catching some wonderful framed shots, with details of these people’s lives and reconstituting their precarious roundabouts.


The music in the background is beautiful, occasionally uplifting the viewer and casting an optimistic feel over the film – the survivors are true fighters: they don’t give up, they don’t back down, they seem unbreakable. One can easily see they will not get out of the camp easily without proper help, but the interviewed try not show how affected they are.


This meaningful documentary about hope and fight against all odds really leaves a print, sensitising the audience with its powerful visuals and fascinating with the courage of tracking some of the protagonists to the even most dangerous aspects of their existence. Derek McNeil’s ‘The Road To Nickelsville’ is a harsh testimony about the way society has come to treat its disadvantaged individuals and a powerful signal of awareness.