Stevie refers as much to its director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) as it does to its mentally-handicapped rural man-child subject Stevie Fielding. In 1986, James left his hometown in the Illinois countryside for a filmmaking career, abandoning Stevie--a troubled young boy he had taken under his wing through a local Big Brother program--in the process. The boy, as this somewhat indulgent but nonetheless gripping documentary account of shirked responsibilities makes clear, endured a nightmarish childhood in which his mother and stepfather relinquished parental duties to the boy’s step-grandmother. A troublemaker who couldn’t be controlled by his elderly guardian, he then spent time in every foster care center in southern Illinois, where he was further physically and sexually abused. As his parole officer states, “You’ve heard it takes a village to raise a child? Well, what happens when the village fails?”
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