What does home mean to you? How would you adjust if you were uprooted from the place you’ve lived most of your life? Change is intimidating. It is scary. It is stressful. It is hard. For the residents of the Oakleigh Centre (now OC Connections), change is also an exciting opportunity for a more independent future.

Directed by Katrina Channells, “Leaving Allen Street” follows a group of intellectually disabled adults as they prepare to move from the institutional setting many have lived for decades to brand new homes within a neighborhood community. Channells captures the experience with authenticity and respect resulting in a beautiful and moving feature that leaves viewers feeling honored to have witnessed such a profound moment in these individuals’ lives.

It’s hard to emphasize enough just how heartwarming it is to see people thrive.

One thing “Leaving Allen Street” does well, in addition to telling the residents’ stories, is to highlight how valuable caretakers are. During the film you get the sense of how hard the staff works but you can also see the genuine love and affection they have for the residents. You can tell it’s not just a job for them but an act of love and a privilege getting to know the people they care for. It filled me with a sense of gratitude seeing how invested they are in each of the residents’ lives. It’s one thing to provide care, but it’s another thing to provide love—the one thing every home needs in the end.

“Leaving Allen Street” is a film that’s good for the soul. Seeing people approach a big change with excitement and grace is uplifting, especially during these challenging times. One of the lessons this film radiates is how compassion and care can have a positive impact. Throughout the film, the caretakers and residents champion each other like family. Together they grow. We as viewers are lucky to grow with them.

Catch “Leaving Allen Street” screening during the special Melbourne Documentary Film Festival Online beginning June 30th. For more information visit: mdff.org.au.