It was standing room only at The Painted Bride Art Center for Wednesday night’s “Homeless Has A Name” film festival.
The event, hosted by Germantonw-based Depaul USA, showcased eight short films on the subject and packed the Old City venue’s auditorium.
“We believe that art is a way of bringing people into the issue of homelessness and we want to engage as many people to become involved with the issue and solve it,” said Chuck Levesque, executive director of Depaul USA. “We also want the homeless people we work with to have a relationship with us, but you can’t have a relationship without a voice.”
Unlike the stereotypes too often associated with homelessness, the festival highlighted the journeys of teenagers, families and even a college graduate who were all once homeless.
“James” a feature film about James Baker detailed the story of a driven man who moved to North Carolina in order to obtain a degree from the College Sports Research Institute from the University of North Carolina.
Originally from Ohio, Baker made the move after a university professor told him he was free to stay with him and his family while he completed his studies.
Upon graduating, Baker informed the professor that he had somewhere to stay and would be moving out shortly. He didn’t have anywhere to go and within weeks of moving, he found himself homeless and living in his car for two months before going to a shelter.
“I thank God for the experience,” said Baker, who attended the festival. “It was a bad one, but it made me the man I am today and the man I will be in the future.”
He currently serves on the board of directors of a local shelter. He is also a teacher and athletic director at a school in North Carolina. The feature film “James” won second place at the festival.
The feature film “Fighter,” which profiled Nichel Greer won third place. Greer, a former resident at the Depaul House in Germantown battled with homelessness most of his adult life.
Depaul House is a transitional housing program run by Depaul USA, a non-profit dedicated to helping people break the cycle of homelessness through an array of initiatives.
In the film, he stated that he grew up in a two-parent household in West Oak Lane, but began using drugs which he feels is a direct result of his homelessness. He is now assisting others who struggle with additions and homelessness.
And the winner was…
The first place winner was a feature film entitled “Living Room,” which provided an intimate portrait of three homeless families in Northeast Ohio struggling to provide for their children and coping with their sense of parent guilt.
The films were followed by a panel discussion lead by Lu Ann Cahn of NewsWorks content partner NBC10.