DOCUMENTARY EXPOSING CHICAGO YOUTH HOMELESSNESS BEGINS ONE WEEK RUN AT GENE SISKEL FILM CENTER SEPTEMBER 12th

DOCUMENTARY EXPOSING CHICAGO YOUTH HOMELESSNESS BEGINS ONE WEEK RUN AT GENE SISKEL FILM CENTER SEPTEMBER 12th

Kartemquin films has a history of telling compelling stories about the people who sometimes are hidden in our society. They connect with filmmakers who create lasting characters and unforgettable images .  They continue that tradition with the release of "The Homestretch".

The Moving film tells story of 3 Illinois teens among the estimated 54,000 trying to survive each night in the city (20,000 in Chicago), and the estimated 1.7 million nationwide in the growing homeless youth crisis produced and directed by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly, will have its theatrical premiere run at the Gene Siskel Film Center at the Art Institute of Chicago from September 12th - 18th.

Shot over the course of five years with unprecedented access into the Chicago Public Schools, The Night Ministry’s The Crib emergency youth shelter, and Teen Living Programs’ Belfort House, The Homestretch follows three teens—Roque, Kasey and Anthony-- through a complex and haunting Chicago landscape of couch-hopping, emergency shelters, makeshift homes, and a school system that is struggling to cope with this crisis. In one scene, emergency shelter beds are meted out via a lottery.

“It is our hope that, through the deeply personal journeys of Kasey, Anthony and Roque, this film can shine a much needed light on one of the most hidden and exploited populations in America – unaccompanied homeless youth,” said co-directors/producers Anne De Mare and Kirsten Kelly. “As a character says in the the film, we want people to understand that, "[Homelessness is] a situation. It's not who you are."

Many of the screenings at Gene Siskel Film Center will be co-presented by Chicago homeless services organizations at the frontlines of addressing the city’s youth homelessness crisis. The filmmakers have an ambitious audience engagement plan designed to raise local, statewide and national  awareness of the situation.The Illinois Board of Education reports that over 54,000 children and youth are currently homeless (20,000 in Chicago) and that number is rising.

A co-production of Chicago’s Kartemquin Films (makers of 2014’s most acclaimed documentary, Life Itself, about Roger Ebert) and New York’s Spargel Productions (Asparagus! Stalking the American Life), The Homestretch received high praise earlier in 2014 at Toronto’s Hot Docs International Festival, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York, and AFI Docs Festival in Washington DC, is now coming home for its first theatrical showings before a nationwide tour this fall and winter, and a PBS broadcast in 2015.

The subjects of the film will be present at multiple screenings through the week. The director/producers, editor Leslie Simmer, executive producers Justine Nagan and Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films, and executive producer Andrew W. Schwertfeger will attend the opening night on Friday, September 12th.

“We are also delighted to bring our films to our home town audience, but especially so when the subject matter is so directly focused on Chicago, “ said Justine Nagan, Kartemquin Films executive director. “The Homestretch is in the heartbreaking yet inspiring tradition of our films like The Interrupters, and will hopefully have just as much of an impact on attitudes and policy.”

Filmmakers Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare began production on The Homestretch in 2010 after Kelly realized a young person in a theater production she was working on with Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Shakespeare Theater was homeless. Upon further investigation, they found that 19,000 kids in Chicago Public Schools were listed in the CPS homeless education program, officially titled “Students in Temporary Living Situations.” But they soon discovered that this number was not comprehensive as many teens do not want to be identified as homeless and do not ask for help. An estimated 1.6 million children and youth across the U.S. face obstacles of homelessness last year, and up to 40% of these youth identify as LGBT.

 Initial funding for the film was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Bertha Fund, Chicago Community Trust, Pierce Family Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation and Chicken & Egg Pictures, and through a successful Kickstarter campaign. Independent Television Service (ITVS)  and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate Initiative recently signed on as Executive Producers.

For Tickets  http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/homestretch

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