When Home is the Street Holds U.S. Premiere At Boston College
By Sean Keeley | Arts & Review Editor
On Monday, January 28th at 6:30 p.m. in Robsham Theatre, BC’s Graduate School of Social Work brought a unique event to campus: the American premiere of a new 35-minute documentary, When Home is the Street.
The film, directed by Brazilian filmmaker Thereza Jessouroun, takes a hard look at the lives of several street children living in Guadalajara, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Through a combination of frank interviews with the youths about their struggles, and evocative street footage of their daily realities, the movie depicts a milieu and unfortunate social reality that is all-too-often overlooked.
Indeed, much of the movie’s power lies in asking the audience to re-examine our own prejudices towards the poor and disadvantaged. In one early scene, we follow two such youths as they make their way onto a subway and ask the passengers for money—all of whom pretend not to notice. In another, two street children approach a table at a sidewalk cafe and ask the party seated there for the leftovers from their table. In the annoyance and fear seen on their faces, it is easy to see the responses of so many of us—the privileged few who would rather not be bothered with the tribulations of those less fortunate, even if they approach us directly. When Home is the Street uses the power of cinema to confront us with their stories.
The movie is filled with revelatory city footage and peppered with lively and topically relevant songs, yet its most powerful moments come in simple close-ups, as its subjects recount their stories. Particularly striking is Javier, who opens the film with a breathless account of his life, in which family troubles led to a life on the streets and a dangerous addiction to drugs, before he was rehabilitated by social workers and was allowed a rare second chance.
When Home is the Street does not merely document the lives of street children—it also describes the efforts of social workers to help them. With its focus on such good-faith efforts to help the poor, the movie offers glimpses of hope in its otherwise bleak vision. Yet it also has a polemical side, reserving harsh criticism for the Brazilian state’s misguided policies towards the homeless.
The documentary was funded by the Fetzer Institute, a private foundation whose mission is “to foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community.” With its moving depiction of a glaring social problem and its look into the good people who are trying to solve it, When Home is the Street does just that.
Image Credit: Thereza Jessouroun