Now that we are well into November, it's a good time to recall why this month plays a crucial role on the annual calendar. It is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, a period in which we are called to reflect on the young lives struggling to find warmth and nourishment as temperatures plunges and forecasts grow gloomier. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, an estimated 2.5 million youth per year experience homelessness. This is a devastating number, yet it is so difficult to make this statistic register as anything other than a tragic abstraction.
Thank goodness for companies like Kartemquin Films and directors like Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly. Their wonderful documentary from last year, "The Homestretch," put a human face on the plight of homeless youth, exploring the lives of three young Chicagoans as they struggle to make a better life for themselves. In his review of the film for RogerEbert.com, Glenn Kenny wrote, "'The Homestretch' invites you to empathize with its subjects, to worry with them, to laugh with them, to worry about them. It’s engaging and compelling viewing."
Another of our writers, Matt Fagerholm, interviewed de Mare and Kelly for his own site, Indie-Outlook.com. " We were working with kids who have been through trauma," Kelly said. "The majority of adults in their lives have betrayed or abandoned them in some way. When you are another adult coming into their lives, you feel a huge responsibility in allowing everything to be on their terms as much as possible while building the trust in a way that causes them to feel empowered."
To watch or purchase "The Homestretch," visit the official Kartemquin site.
Editor's note: A grant for "The Homestretch" was provided by The Ebert Foundation.