The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.
March 23, 2015 | posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers
What happens when teenagers find themselves with no place to live? Filmmakers Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly answer this question by following three homeless Chicago teens in “The Homestretch.”
“Five years ago, we were fortunate to meet young people who trusted us to tell their story,” says de Mare.
As the filmmakers researched the topic, they found that there are tens of thousands of kids registered in the Chicago public school system classified as homeless with nowhere to go after school. And the problem is growing, not only in Chicago, but across the U.S.
“This film will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you think,” says Kasey, one of the subjects of the film. “It will warm your hearts.”
The film was featured in a February 2015 article in The Atlantic. “Where ‘The Homestretch’ most succeeds as a film lies squarely in its authentic, no-frills portrayal of what it means to be young and homeless in America,” writes Terrance Ross. “It doesn’t overload the screen with tear-jerking montages of young panhandlers tethered to street corners, begging cup in tow. Instead, it reveals that, in the U.S., youth homelessness is as subtle as it is insidious—and that disagreements over what ‘homelessness’ looks and feels like, and over the role schools should play in conquering it, have perhaps been the greatest obstacle to finding a solution.”
The documentary debuted at the Hot Docs Canadian Film Festival and has also made the rounds in public screenings across the country. The film is sparking “meaningful, forward-moving dialogue” about the homeless youth crisis amongpolicymakers in Washington, D.C.
The filmmakers encourage others who see the film to also get involved. The film’s website lists a number of ways to “take action.” Among other things, they suggest donating emergency supplies to homeless students and youth and urging your U.S. Senators and Representatives to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHYA) by passing the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S. 262).
—Anne M. DiTeodoro
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