Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 18, 2021 } Playhouse Square

Spend Closing Night at 'The Public'

April 07, 2019   |   posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers


The mission statement of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County is “Connecting people with the world of ideas and information.” Nowhere does it say that if you’re homeless or mentally ill, you are not welcome.

Public libraries are just that—public, free and open to all. However, one librarian from Salt Lake City, in an article he wrote for the Los Angeles Times in 2007, noted that his library, like “virtually all the urban libraries in the nation, is a de facto daytime shelter for the city’s homeless.” The article also noted that librarians have added the role of social worker to their responsibilities in these instances.

That article got Emilio Estevez thinking. It took him 12 years, but he finally finished his story with, “The Public,” tonight’s Closing Night film.

Estevez stars in the film as a librarian caught in the middle of a “sit in” by library patrons, most who are homeless or mentally ill, and won’t leave. The area shelters are full and they have nowhere else to turn on a wintry night.

He also wrote, directed, and co-produced the film. Scenes were filmed at night after hours in the Cincinnati library, or the Public, as it’s referred to. At first, the library administrators and staff were concerned that giving the crew access and filming onsite would be disruptive to patrons and “could negatively impact the mission of the public library.”

“I made it very clear that my intention was not to impinge the public right to freely access the library, its information, and its resources,” Estevez tells American Libraries. “It was important to convey how seriously I take the work of librarians and how important I believe libraries are as a crucial and essential public commons.”

Each night the crew of more than 100 people would wrap up their work “making sure that we left no discernible footprint,” he continues.

The film was originally set to be shot in Los Angeles, until Estevez was lured back to his family roots in Ohio. His mother was born in Cincinnati, and his father, actor Martin Sheen, grew up in Dayton. He was also able to get some significant tax incentives for shooting in Cincinnati.

The local premiere took place on March 30 in downtown Cincinnati, and Cincinnatians are proud and impressed that so many references to their Queen City are made in the movie. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Estevez peppers the script with multiple references to the city and its neighborhoods, as well as some insider lingo.

Also starring in the film are Alec Baldwin, Taylor Schilling, Gabrielle Union, and Christian Slater. It was co-produced with Kristen Schlotman, executive director of Film Cincinnati.

Anne M. DiTeodoro

PHOTO: Although we are at the Cleveland International Film Festival, we are going to give a little love to our southern Ohio neighbors in Cincinnati. Emilio Estevez’s “The Public” was filmed in 2017 partly in the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County’s main branch downtown.

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.3 MB]

Related Screenings:
04/07/19 @ 6:45 PM – The Public

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