PBS Documentary “The Homeless Chorus Speaks” Offers a Glimpse of the Tragic Homeless Emergency in America through Stories of a Homeless Performance Choir. “The film is a lesson in empathy, demonstrating how ground-shifting the simple act of listening can be.” LOS ANGELES TIMES
According to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are approximately 554,000 people living without access to housing in the United States. In an uplifting and timely documentary airing on PBS, critically-acclaimed documentarian Susan Polis Schutz explores the tragic homelessness emergency through 14 raw and honest interviews with homeless people from the Voices of Our City Choir. The choir members tell stories and we learn from them in “The Homeless Chorus Speaks” (IronZeal Films, 2018). The trailer for the documentary can be found here: https://vimeo.com/240382730
The Voices of Our City Choir (www.voicesofourcity.org) was founded in 2016 by award-winning musicians, Steph Johnson and Nina Leilani in response to the current housing crisis. The choir serves as a space for mutual aid and community building, as well as giving voice to San Diego’s homeless community, past and present. Their mission is to showcase the abilities and powerful potential of every individual. The choir also creates a space for family and in “The Homeless Chorus Speaks,” it’s shown that even suicides have been thwarted because of the friendships that have been formed through the choir.
Schutz interviews 14 members of the choir as they tell their stories, leaving viewers with the sense that anyone could be one step away from becoming homeless. One woman shares about going blind, which forced her to quit her job and live off only $900 a month from disability—leaving her without options to afford housing. A young woman shares her story about her mother dying at age 23 from a drug overdose, and being abused by her father. These events stripped her of family, safety and security. From people recovering from abuse, to others battling addiction, to people who are in need of attentive medical care, the film shows that unsheltered people are just like anyone else.
“Homelessness is an inhumane world problem,” says Schutz. “This film is meant to strip away at the judgement and avoidance most people with homes have when it comes to the topic of homelessness. It could happen to you, it could happen to anyone. So what are you going to do to help?”
The Homeless Chorus Speaks will air on various PBS stations around the country in 2018.
For more info, please visit VoicesofOurCity.org