A bracingly intimate and hallucinatory portrait of a man with schizophrenia surviving amidst urban detritus and decay. Pushing at the limits of non-fiction cinema, A Man Imagined follows 67-year old Lloyd as he sells discarded objects to motorists and passersby. Unfolding along psychological lines, the film reveals the existential solitude of a man at once gentle and marred by a storied past.
A bracingly intimate and hallucinatory portrait of a man with schizophrenia surviving amidst urban detritus and decay.
Pushing at the limits of non-fiction cinema, A Man Imagined is a bracingly intimate and hallucinatory portrait of a man with schizophrenia surviving amidst urban detritus and decay. Made in close collaboration with 67-year-old Lloyd, this immersive documentary fable follows the jagged path of a decades-long street survivor, across harsh winters and blistering summers, as he sells discarded items to motorists, sleeps in junkyards and lapses into near-psychedelic reveries.
When Lloyd reveals a startling detail from his past, the filmmakers try to help him piece together a story that spills out in fragments—a jigsaw puzzle of painful childhood abstraction that seems to hold an unspeakable mystery at its core.
With its subjective, lyrical camerawork and expressionistic sound design, the latest feature from directors Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky finds poetic power and transcendence in the harrowed mind of its protagonist, delivering a poignant meditation on life at the margins.
We met Lloyd after having volunteered at a local shelter for the better part of a year. Our initial intention was to make a film with multiple characters and create a panorama of those experiencing homelessness. Upon meeting Lloyd, all of that changed. He approached us, intrigued by our camera and our presence at the shelter, quietly asserting his desire to partake in our project. He had an almost biblical aura that was unmistakable and a need, however covert, to be seen.
It was February of 2020, mere weeks before the whole world would shut down. Then, unexpectedly, Melanie’s sister passed away just days after having met Lloyd. He was the last person we saw before her passing and the first person we saw after she had passed. We would soon discover that Lloyd had experienced inexplicable loss of his own, and we felt a deep kinship with him and his story.
Together, over a period of two-and-a-half years, we would craft an intimate and immersive portrait of a man with a rich inner life who is routinely overlooked and often feared. We worked with him in the way one might work with a non-actor in a neorealist film. It was like a dance; sometimes Lloyd would lead and we’d follow, and sometimes it was the other way around. Our collaboration became a salve for us all. Lloyd’s gentle spirit kept us grounded in the midst of tremendous turmoil, and he, in turn, felt both embraced and seen.
Having lived off the grid his entire adult life, the lockdowns weren’t a considerable adjustment for Lloyd. He’s always lived on his own terms, unencumbered by the daily rhythms that consume and threaten to swallow the rest of us. We knew it was risky making a feature with a sole protagonist with no fixed address or phone, who at any given moment could vanish into thin air, but Lloyd always showed up, displaying a deep and unwavering commitment to the making of this film.
We offer A Man Imagined as a testament to survival.
Written and Directed by
Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky
Director of Photography
Brian M. Cassidy
Brian M. Cassidy
Brian M. Cassidy
A National Film Board of Canada Production