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@home: documentary starts community dialogue on homelessness

Tue, Jun 17, 2014

Kindling Group presents a series of community film screenings of the documentary @home from May 29 to June 6 in seven Chicago Park District locations across the city. The film and post-screening discussion, lead by the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, offers a unique forum for community dialogue about homelessness. All screenings begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. See Page 9 for the list of screening dates.

A co-production of two Chicago companies, Kindling Group and See3, @home is directed Chicagoan by Susanne Suffredin. It is a journey through the landscape of a forgotten America, to the invisible communities of people living without permanent housing. It explores the causes of homelessness and the complexities of living on the street.

Susanne Suffredin

Susanne Suffredin

“I needed to make a film that would help those who haven’t experienced homelessness understand the issue in a larger context, one not driven by fear and blame, but one that really looks at why in this country of enormous wealth this is still allowed to happen,” said Suffredin. “By dispelling stereotypes and discrediting judgmental attitudes, the film starts to build a bridge between those housed and those not. I believe that bridging that gap is the film’s most powerful message. It’s where change can start to happen. Add to that the potential for social media to help support and amplify this perception shift, and the film’s ideas were complete.”

The presentation series of @home confronts homelessness where it happens everyday – in the parks around our city – where people who are homeless often congregate or seek sanctuary. This screening series allows the communities to see the issue of homelessness differently and offers a safe place to discuss this crisis and its impact on our neighborhood and our neighbors.

The film encourages audiences to start a conversation about homelessness. Some people experience crises that can cause them to become homeless: job loss, health problems, domestic violence, fire, and others. Ending homelessness means prevention to help people who are about to lose their homes, rapid re-housing for people who lose their homes, and support services to promote housing stability and self-sufficiency.

Challenging stereotypes, @home asks us all to question how invisible we've allowed America's homeless population to become. Listen to their stories and understand their simple, but life-changing wishes: a home, a job, and the ability to help others.

Challenging stereotypes, @home asks us all to question how invisible we’ve allowed America’s homeless population to become. Listen to their stories and understand their simple, but life-changing wishes: a home, a job, and the ability to help others.

“I’d like people be to be sensitized to something that they may have become numb to and to shift their perceptions from fear and blame to empathy and understanding,” said Suffredin. “Our tag line is ‘start the conversation.’ Starting the conversation is about us all getting out of our comfort zone and looking at another’s reality and trying to understand it without judgment… a question that comes up again and again is, ‘what do I do when I see a homeless person?’ [This] is really the start of the conversation. Feeling compassion toward that person and giving them the dignity they deserve is a first step. The next steps are up to each of us in our own way.”

The Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness will lead post-screening discussions to facilitate dialogue and answer questions about how to get involved. The Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness brings systems coordination and evaluation to Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness 2.0.

The screening series leads up to the film’s Premiere at the Museum of Contemporary Art on June 9 at 7 p.m. Community screenings will continue throughout the Greater Chicago Area through the summer and fall.

Visit the film’s website, www.athomedocumentary.org to learn more. Contact Dawn Dewald, Outreach Coordinator to arrange a screenin

Brittany Langmeyer
From Prepared Materials

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