Someone Like Me is a New Canadian Film Offering A No-Holds-Barred Depiction of Asylum Seekers

The new LGBTQ+ film explores the complicated journey of one refugee seeking asylum in Canada.

Arts Movies & Television Triston Brewer

This article was published on June 7th, 2022

Canada holds special status as the sole country worldwide that provides a program specifically meant to aid LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees. In the new film Someone Like Me, that journey is seen through the eyes of a 22-year-old Ugandan man, who must navigate turbulent terrain with the assistance of Canadians as well as confront a difficult process that continues long after arrival.

Produced by the National Board of Canada and directed by Steve J. Adams and Sean Horlor, at the center of the film is Drake, a Ugandan who leaves everything and everyone he knows in his hometown as he seeks asylum in Vancouver. A band of queer strangers rally together to settle him via Rainbow Refugee, a non-profit organization that teams up LGBTQ+ asylum seekers with sponsors. During the film, we see Drake and his supporters come up against unexpected hurdles – one of them being the global pandemic.

Drake’s Story Involved a Year-Long Process

The story unfolded over the course of 12 months as the group of volunteers at Rainbow Refugee assisted Drake in settling in Vancouver. The directors had not met with Drake or any of his supporters before filming, and the goal is clear from the beginning: to help Drake be somewhere that he can be comfortable in his own skin and love how he wants without fear of discrimination, retribution, or violence. Even in Canada, however, Drake must fight for the right to simply be, and this is where Someone Like Me shines in showing how survival is a form of victory in and of itself. 

Parallel Lives

Months after Drake arrives and begins interaction with the volunteers at Rainbow Refugee, viewers also get to see the daily challenges they must also contend with as queer people – from Marlon’s struggles to live freely as a gay man, David searching for job security after leaving grad school, and Kay’s long and tumultuous journey through gender transition.

These issues and more are exponentially compounded by the global pandemic, which forces everyone to ask the difficult questions to see Drake through the process and continue to provide support. The work involved is what viewers get to see in a no-holds-barred approach that includes not only basic needs, but other components that include emotional and psychological assistance as well as mentorship over the course of the year. 

How ‘Someone Like Me’ Came to Be

The project began in earnest in 2015, when both Adams and Horlor had discussions with the National Film Board of Canada on collaborating on something together. Ultimately, it was decided to chronicle the nuances and complexities associated with assisting someone in the asylum seeker program. The decision to illuminate to audiences the realities undertaken in the process are rare to see on film, and the graphic depiction of homophobia and violence offer an unfiltered perspective of the journey. 

When Can Viewers Watch ‘Someone Like Me’?

Someone Like Me is now available indefinitely for free streaming in Canada on NFB.ca. 

To date, the film has captured several awards, including:

  • Rogers Audience Award | Hot Docs Festival, Toronto (2021) 
  • Alternative Spirit Award – Documentary Grand Prize | Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) | Providence, RI, USA (2021) 
  • Best Documentary Feature at the Las Cruces International Film Festival | Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA (2022) 

This June, www.nfb.ca will be streaming more movies free of charge, as the National Film Board of Canada online screening room features celebrated new titles to celebrate Pride Month, World Oceans Day and National Indigenous History Month. 

Watch the trailer for Someone Like Me:

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