Homeless people video
This award winning homeless video profiles several very different homeless people who struggle with homelessness during one year.
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Produced in collaboration with homeless people and shown on PBS, this thought provoking homeless video is recommended by the National Coalition for the Homeless. The video is widely considered to be the best and most broadly applicable case study available on the scope and diversity of homelessness in America.
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Preview clips of the Homeless Home Movie on YouTube.
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Homelessness: Face to Face

Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Homelessness is a misnomer," says local filmmaker Pat Hennessey

"Displaced would be a better word. It's not about fitting into a shelter. It's about fitting into society."

By Kristin Tillotson
Star Tribune Staff Writer

We hear about "the homeless" so often, they've become faceless and nameless, too -- yet another generalized group about which to become desensitized. Driving past sodden sleeping bags under a highway bridge, avoiding eye contact with a parking-ramp squatter on a January night, or giving a wide berth to panhandlers, we feel a vague twinges of pity.

Unless you happen to know a few homeless people, odds are you've got some over simplified notions about them. A locally produced documentary airing at 9 tonight on KTCA-Ch 2 offers a rare chance to hear about life on the streets, from those who live it, from the comfort zone of your sofa.

"The Homeless Home Movie" is a dust-streaked window on the experiences of several Twin Cities homeless people. This video diary professes no political stance and features no experts distilling abstract information - just the voices and intimate presences of those who walk the walk.

There's a 15-year-old runaway, Tina, a homeless by choice hobo, a former publishing professional with a masters degree who was left bankrupt by medical bills, and an alcoholic couple who try to put a Pollyanna spin on living out of a stalled station wagon behind the Gospel Mission.

Following the film, KTCA's "Newsnight Minnesota" will host a discussion and update, including as many of the film's subjects as could be located last week.

One of them, a guy who goes by the moniker "West Side," said he hopes the film "opens some eyes to the fact that we may all look pretty much the same, but we're not the same. Our situations are as different from each other as anybody else's."

That, according to producer Pat Hennessey, was accomplished by "not doing a film about them but with them." I played the catalyst - almost a technician's role, so their perspectives would come through."

As a film student at the University of Minnesota four years ago, Hennessey befriended some homeless people who hung out in the lobby of the building where he lived. He became interested in finding out what was behind their situation: "I'd never heard a satisfactory answer,' he said.

The $30,000 production budget for "The Homeless Home Movie," which has been shown at several independent-film festivals since it was completed earlier this year, was bare-bones for a project created over a three year span with only a two person crew. "That was part of the reason we gained these peopleís trust," Hennessey said.

Volunteer Hobo - West Side is a hobo and Twin Cities habitue who volunteers at the Catholic Charities Branch II on weekday mornings when he's in town. This 49-year-old with a scraggly white beard looks like a stereotypical tramp and doesnít consider himself homeless. He's been living "out of a pack" since hs was 13 - then unwillingly, now because he prefers it. But he's the exception in this film.

The subject who will probably remind most people "there but for the grace of God go I" is 50'ish Greg Horan, who went form working at Psychology Today magazine in New York City to St. Paul's Gospel Mission via heartbreak and bankruptcy after his daughter's death from leukemia, then getting hit by a truck - literally. He had insurance, but the uncovered costs overwelmed him.

"Most people don't realize they could be just a few hospital bills away from this," he said.

While homeless, Horan published a newsletter called Street Views, which included a column called "Lifestyles of the Poor and Barely Known." He now works as a legal aide for Project Hope in St. Paul, a small nonprofit group that helps find affordable housing for people on the streets.

©copyright, 2005