on the edge: Family Homelessness in America
Discussion Guide (PDF)
Award-winning film, as seen on PBS!
Think you know homelessness? Think again...
Seven women courageously step out of America's shadow of shame, homelessness, lugging family troubles and deep-seated anxiety as they grapple to avoid returning to their nomadic existence. Their brutal honesty reveals not only the turmoil and tragedies that led to their homelessness but also their vulnerability of returning to a life of invisible struggle to survive. Their stories give new meaning to life “on the edge.”
Each woman’s story is unique but there are recurring themes of trauma and abuse. They speak of the friends who tried to help them and their own desire to help others like themselves. Each woman has fought to regain her independence with a fragile support network, based on society’s ambiguous standards.
They grasp tenuously to the edge of stability hoping for future lives in their own homes, or at least to avoid the return to homelessness.
- Watch the 4-min trailer of on the edge: Family Homelessness in America on the edge: Family Homelessness in America (4 min) (plus access other HEAR US videos)
- Watch the 8-min trailer of on the edge.
- OTE Discussion Guide (download PDF)
|on the edge NEWS!|
on the edge won the Big Muddy Film Festival, 2/24/12
on the edge: Family Homelessness in America 2012 release $30
enhanced content: broadcast edition (RT 58 min.), close-captioned;
“After you’ve been homeless, you will do whatever is in your power to keep from being homeless again,”
remarks one of the down-but-not-quite-out subjects in this heartbreaking documentary, which puts a human face on homelessness.
In candid interviews, seven women share their tales of homelessness, telling about circumstances that led to their rootless existence and their attempts to find sleeping arrangements with friends or in cheap hotels and shelters, all the while trying to get themselves back on their feet.
Experts address legal, social, and childdevelopment issues and present staggering statistics (a single mother of two working a minimum-wage job would have to work 120 hours a week just to afford an apartment). The film is straightforward rather than sensationalistic, making the women’s stories even more powerful. Use this in community groups and classrooms to spur discussions about this widespread problem. (Discussion Guide: http://hearus.us/pdf/OTE_DG.pdf)
Far beyond urban street corners where often-scorned and neglected homeless men and women shuffle, invisible families and teens struggle to survive homelessness and destitution. They stay in a variety of locales, in communities of all sizes and economic compositions. For numerous reasons, this sub-population of homeless denizens have been mostly ignored, and now estimates of their numbers exceeds 2 million, with some experts believing that invisible homeless families could number close to 10 million.
on the edge, featuring 7 women who lost their housing for a variety of reasons, gives a painfully intimate look at the entwined connection between poverty, housing issues, social problems, addictions, family crises, and gender-related injustices. These compelling and forthcoming experts on homelessness shine a bright, unmitigated light on systemic and personal causes of their struggles, illuminating what has been a dark corner of social inaction and concern. READ the history of "on the edge..."
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Diane Nilan, Founder/President, HEAR US Inc., a national nonprofit organization that gives voice and visibility to homeless children and youth
Laura Vazquez, Associate Professor, Northern Illinois University, Department of Communication, documentary filmmaker
READ a story about on the edge.
Since 2006, Nilan and Vazquez have completed several short films on the issue of homeless children, youth and families. Their documentary series includes My Own Four Walls, which won the 2007 NAECHY Outstanding Media Award, as well as a K-12 educator awareness series for teachers and administrators. They produced REACH: Connect Children to Education, a short training video to remove barriers to education for homeless children of incarcerated parents, and several short advocacy videos. They have formed Nomad Productions in anticipation of future joint ventures.
Nilan has worked with homeless families, intensely advocating on local, state and national levels for solutions to homelessness for 3 decades She is in her 10th year traveling backroads of the lower 48 states chronicling homelessness as it affects families and teens. (Diane's biography)
Vazquez, an accomplished documentary filmmaker, devoted her sabbatical in the spring of 2008 (and much more) to work with Nilan on this unique film project. Her commitment to this ignored issue and her longstanding commitment to social justice contributes not only vast technical expertise, but the passion that augments this extraordinary effort.
OTE available ($30 + s/h) at upcoming screenings and through HEAR US (order form).
Includes: HD, close-captions, Q&A session with Prof. Markus Redding and his Columbia University MSW students, and more!