Pedro Kos, the director of the documentary Homeless Lives wants “to draw attention to this humanity that we have all ignored for too long” during the big annual Hollywood meeting which will begin on March 28th.
Once a year, Hollywood welcomes the stars and glitter of the Oscars ceremony, but every night hundreds of homeless people sleep on the sidewalks of one of the most famous districts of Los Angeles. These two worlds, neighbors and yet poles apart, will collide at the end of March. The directors of a documentary devoted to the fate of the homeless in the United States, in the running for these prestigious trophies, intend to invite some of their interlocutors to walk the red carpet with them for the evening.
“Hopefully, on the day of the ceremony, we can put some emphasis on this coexistence and draw attention to this humanity that is, literally, across the street and that we have all ignored for too long.“Launches Pedro Kos, co-director of the documentary Des Vies Sans Toit, to AFP. “We cross our fingers so that we can come with two or three of them“, adds his comrade Jon Shenk.
The short film, broadcast on Netflix, follows the journey of a dozen homeless people in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle over the space of three years. It shows in detail their daily life, their struggle to survive on the streets and their hopes of escaping it one day.
Among them is Luis Rivera Miranda, a friend of dogs in his forties who embarks on a love affair with another homeless person, and Ronnie Willis, says “Futuristic Astairewho dances for tourists along Hollywood Boulevard so they can buy food. “It has an extraordinary story. He’s someone who trained as a classical dancer, who danced with Janet Jackson, who choreographed Thong Song of Sisqo and which has unfortunately experienced difficult times“, stresses Pedro Kos.
In the scenes of the documentary devoted to Willis, one canreally see the Dolby Theaterwhere the Oscar ceremony traditionally takes place, he notes. For the directors, a large part of the problem of the homeless stems from the fact that far too many people see them in a dehumanized way and convince themselves that they are responsible for their own misfortune.
The homeless people interviewed for the film, however, explain that they arrived on the street because of disabilities, rejection by their families after declaring themselves transgender, or even after a depression caused by the attacks of September 11, 2001.I think it comes from our own fears of meeting the same fate», Analyzes Jon Shenk.
“We hope that the film can offer a new point of view… Let’s remember who we are talking about, they are Americans, they are our neighbors, they have rights, they are people“, he insists.
Filming social violence
The directors took the time to earn the trust of their subjects. Rather than interviewing them outright, they began by installing their cameras in accommodation centers where they spent avulnerability assessment», launching the recording before leaving the room to allow them to express themselves more freely.
One of the most poignant moments in the documentary is captured when a homeless woman complains to a social worker that she was once again beaten by a man named Mike. “For women, sexual violence is all too real“says Shenk. “I don’t think we’ve met a woman who doesn’t have a story related to this“, he insists.
The two directors have no miracle solution to the problem that undermines the entire west coast of the United States (150,000 homeless people are counted in California alone) but they believe that eliminating the red tape in aid programs would already be a good start. “There is no doubt for us that there is a crisis of humanity right now in the United States“says Jon Shenk.
Before concluding, “At the Oscars, we hope to use this tiny moment of attention to our tiny little film to open a conversation that allows people to have a point of view that they otherwise would not have had.“.