Friday, June 20, 2014

"The Homestretch" documents the lives of three homeless teens in Chicago public high schools; the QA turns out to be challenging

I attended the screening of “The Homestretch” at the Naval Archive Theater on Friday morning (today), as an event of AFI-Docs, found it about half full, and heard that the screening last night in Silver Spring was a sell out.  The documentary on homeless teens in Chicago public high schools, directed by Anne De Mare and Kristin Kelly, is moving;  but what marked today’s event was not just the film itself, but the challenging nature of the comments by several people (not just the filmmakers) in the QA.  I recorded a lot of it, and will present all of my footage soon on another Wordpress blog. 

The speakers bluntly challenged audience members to become involved with homeless young people.  It wasn’t clear if the remarks were intended mainly for other teachers or administrators or for the public as a whole.  The kids need personal attention and “mentoring” (said to be a bad word).  Also, Kristin said that 40% of the homeless teens that she interviewed were LGBT.

The film traces three teenagers: Anthony, Roque, and Kasey.  Roque (Hispanic) actually lives in a teacher’s home.  I’ve never heard of a teacher’s offering shelter before.  Anthony (black) has fathered a child at 14, and that child has been taken from the mother and put into foster care.  He has committed petty theft and been arrested trying to survive in the street.   Kasey (black) seems to have been thrown out of home because she is a lesbian.  Roque gets into acting, and plays a part in Shakespeare’s Hamlet convincingly.  He applies to Northeastern Illinois University and gets in (after paperwork reconsideration) despite a low GPA.  But he still has to get some paperwork done with immigration to work legally.  Anthony gets mentored, and enters a high-tech education program, and gets a subsidy to have his own apartment.  Kasey winds up in a mental hospital for a while.

The film also showed the Belfort Center shelter, and the Temporary Living Situation and Program (TLS and TLP) issues.  It also shows another facility called the Crib Emergency Shelter, where kids line up on cold nights to get in.
The official site is here from Kartemquin Films. The film will appear on PBS Independent Lens at some point in the future (probably Spring 2015, after a theatrical run).

Ironically (or coincidentally), a CD issued by composer and pianist Timo Andres, reviewed on the Drama blog Aug. 1, 2013, is called "Home Stretch" (two words), as is a piano concerto on the album that he composed.   

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