Three homeless teens in Chicago fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future.
Directed by Anne de Mare, Kirsten Kelly
Cinematography: Anne de Mare, Kirsten Kelly
Editing: Leslie Simmer
Original Music: Greg Kalember
Co-Producer: Katie Taber
Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer
Executive Producers: Justine Nagan, Gordon Quinn, Andrew W. Schwertfeger
A co-production of Spargel Productions LLC, Kartemquin Educational Films and Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
Note: There are two versions of this program on the same DVD: 89-minutes and 53-minutes..
"The most powerful narrative on homeless youth I have seen." Joseph Murphy, Professor of Education, Vanderbilt University
THE HOMESTRETCH follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future. Each of these resilient, inspiring teenagers - Roque, Kasey and Anthony - will surprise and challenge audiences to rethink stereotypes of homelessness as they work to complete their education while facing the trauma of being alone and abandoned at an early age.
Through haunting images, intimate scenes, and first-person narratives, these teens take us on their journeys of struggle and triumph. As their stories unfold, the film connects us deeply with larger issues of poverty, race, juvenile justice, immigration, foster care, and LGBTQ rights.
With unprecedented access into the Chicago Public Schools, The Night Ministry's Crib emergency youth shelter and Teen Living Programs' Belfort House, THE HOMESTRETCH follows these kids as they move through the milestones of high school while navigating a landscape of couch hopping, emergency shelters, transitional homes, street families and a school system on the front lines of this crisis. The film examines the struggles these youth face in obtaining a high school level education, and then follows them beyond graduation to focus on the crucial transition when the structure of school vanishes and homeless youth struggle to find the support and community they need to survive and be independent. A powerful, original perspective on what it means to be young, homeless and building a future in America today.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2014
Copyright Date: 2014
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-520-3
"Homestretch is a rich tool for classroom discussion. The film captures the complexities of this crisis well, including the resiliency and potential of the featured homeless youth; the dedication and depth of emotion of those who help; the sheer magnitude of the crisis; and the insufficiency and precariousness of resources for support services. The three youth featured in the film provide a realistic balance in terms of the various factors which can lead to life on the streets and the different and nonlinear paths out of homelessness. I would highly recommend this film for educational settings at all levels."
Lori A. Nessel, Esq., Professor of Law, Director, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall University School of Law
"A moving and insightful look into the complexities of youth homelessness through the stories of three homeless young adults and the challenges they face. Through these personal stories, the film provides an entry point to a larger discussion of the systemic barriers to eradicating youth homelessness."
Alan Dettlaff, Associate Professor of Social Work, Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago
"This film deftly, courageously and respectfully illustrates the complexity of the issues resulting in over one million young people experiencing homelessness every year in this country."
Paul W. Hamann, President and CEO, The Night Ministry
"The most powerful narrative on homeless youth I have seen. A heartbreaking story of sadness -- and care and hope, of loneliness and possibilities. The documentary makes you cry and redouble efforts to make a difference in the lives of homeless children."
Joseph Murphy, Professor of Education, Chair, Dept. of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, Vanderbilt University, Author, Homelessness Comes To School
"Homestretch highlights the lack of resources and systemic barriers homeless youth face as they try to educate themselves and break cycles of poverty. Each student's story enforces the need for more affordable housing options, and greater opportunities for access to post-secondary education or career preparation programs for homeless youth. This film is truly captivating, inspirational and life changing."
Cyekeia Lee, Director of Higher Education Initiatives, National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
"In a compassionate and eloquent manner, this film provides a rare glimpse into the lives of several homeless youth as they struggle to find stable and healthy environments away from the streets. Not only do we get the privilege to share in their lives but we also gain insight into the committed service providers who care for these young people left behind."
Dr. Jeff Karabanow, Professor, School of Social Work, College of Sustainability, School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Author, Leaving the Streets: Stories of Canadian Youth
"An incredibly important documentary that exposes the barriers to homeless teens struggling to graduate from high school desperately wanting to live better lives...Highly recommended for older audiences and most libraries. It is also a great resource for anyone with an interest in researching the LBGTQ perspective."
Deidra N. Herring, The Ohio State University, Educational Media Reviews Online
"Offers a powerful look at the non-academic challenges that some teens face while trying to complete high school. Recommended."
P. Hall, Video Librarian
"This thoughtful and sobering program changes the perception of homelessness by offering a personalized view of three smart, ambitious teens."
Debra McLeod, Booklist
"A very moving portrait of teenage homelessness that touches our very being and deserves to be viewed by a very wide audience."
Augustine Curley, Library Journal
"The devastation of watching these kids is realizing how much they have to give. Their lives are as valuable as mine, or yours, yet due to circumstances, they are given little-to-zero agency over the outcome...There are ideas of what homeless people are, that they perhaps deserved it, but all this movie shows is the injustices of such a circumstantial thing. The lasting legacy of this film is the three of them; battling in a terrible situation, but embodying a beautiful humanity as they try and push forward, onto the next step."
Fariha Roisin, IndieWire
"De Mare and Kelly stick close to their subjects, compassionately capturing their many challenges...and triumphs. They also sketch in the larger world of Chicago's homeless youth, visiting the public schools where the roster of displaced students rises each semester, and hanging out in emergency shelters like the 'Crib' where forlorn adolescents hope to procure a nightly spot via lottery...The Homestretch is heartrending."
Keith Uhlich, A.V. Club
"An unprecedented look into the day-to-day lives of three of the estimated 1.6 million homeless youth living in the United States...While the subjects all have different stories, they share in one important common theme: the dissolution of their bond with key family members. Their stories are powerful in how they counter the prevailing misconceptions surrounding what leads many young people in the U.S. into homelessness."
Joseph Erbentraut, The Huffington Post
2 versions: the original 89-minute version and a 53-minute version, plus a special 15-minute educational reel focusing on the public schools, the trailer and deleted scenes. Also has scene selection for both versions, and SDH captions.
Excellent 30-Page Youth Action Guide
Excellent 21-Page Discussion Guide
Youth Call to Action Card
House Party Kit packed with information and ideas on how to make your screening successful including planning, outreach, discussion guide, educational resources, and partner organizations
Awards and Festivals
National PBS Broadcast on "Independent Lens"
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
Human Rights Watch Film Festival
St. Louis International Film Festival
Cleveland International Film Festival
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Kansas International Film Festival
High Falls Film Festival
Indie Memphis FilmFest
Anchorage International Film Festival
Citizen Jane Film Festival
Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival
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"An honest and intellectually challenging look at the underbelly of American poverty and privilege, which succeeds in growing viewer empathy without ever becoming preachy or forceful with its message."
"Evokes compassion and empathy while also rejecting the narratives that either depict homeless youth as helpless victims or dehumanize them as deviant threats to social order. This documentary is at once heart-wrenching, enraging, and inspiring."
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