Art for Advocacy: The Face of Family Homelessness

How partners across Washington state are using art for advocacy around homelessness.

By Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Inocente at SAM walking down aisle by Steve Schimmelman

Partnering with Seattle Art Museum for the screening of “Inocente” allowed us to reach a new audience of art lovers. Here, they give Inocente a standing ovation at the conclusion of the film. Photo by Steve Schimmelman. 

Republished from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, April 7, 2016.

A young woman of color takes the stage. With a quick prop change and shift of her posture, she becomes several different characters: a young military veteran, a successful business executive, a street paper vendor, all of whom have been hit with homelessness. Continue reading

“Super Dads”: Stories of Resilience from Children and Fathers Faced with Homelessness

By Haley Jo Lewis, project assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness and Communication senior, Seattle U

Note: This is the second in a series in which we ask our staff to react to the “American Refugees” film that most appealed to them.

 

Life as a homeless family is “really scary.”

“Really scary…really scary. I can’t explain.” This quote from the film “Super Dads” reflects the raw honesty found within the accounts of homeless fathers interviewed by the filmmakers.

Unrelenting to sadness, weakness and fear: A father’s words are supposed to be filled with strength. In the film “Super Dads,” however, homeless fathers open up about their greatest fears, hardships, and struggles as they talk about their experiences being homeless — something they never thought they’d face.

“Super Dads” hit me the hardest of  the four animated shorts in “American Refugees.” It was those stories of resilience that moved me most. Their hardships are all too real, and pull me back to a time when my own father was homeless, struggling to find a place where we could take solace.

 

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“Home for Sale”: Nowhere to Call Home

 A film that showed me how close homelessness can be for families

Written by Emma Lytle, Seattle University senior communications major and project assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness 

 Note: This is the first in a series in which we ask our staff to react to the “American Refugees” film that most appealed to them.

Stability is the foundation and the glue that holds a family together. Stability comes in many forms, whether it’s sustaining a steady job or having a place to call home.

As the daughter of a firefighter and a nurse, I grew up feeling that sense of stability. But some families aren’t always so lucky. Sometimes that glue disappears from a family as parents struggle to make ends meet.

Home for Sale” is a captivating short film about the loss of a family’s stability and the reality of losing their home. This film showed me how close my family could have been to being homeless while I was growing up.

Home for Sale, American Refugees; Project on Family Homelessness, Film and Family Homelessness
This is the foreclosure notice on the house in “Home for Sale,” just one of the many signs of a struggling family.

“That would never happen to us.”

This quote is from the short film. It’s what a couple says as they think about buying a foreclosed house. They feel they would never lose their home to foreclosure.

I have always believed this statement to be true for me and for my family too. This film shook me with the reality of homelessness.

Home for Sale, American Refugees; Project on Family Homelessness, Film and Family Homelessness
The couple looking at buying the foreclosed house. Like many others, they struggle with whether they can buy a house that represents the broken dreams of another family.

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Seattle International Film Festival “American Refugees” Premiere (Haley’s Recap)

Seattle University, four animated shorts, and a determination to change the way people see family homelessness

Written by Haley Jo Lewis, Student Project Assistant for the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Seattle University: empowering leaders for a just and humane world. But what does that really look like?

It was a sold-out show on May 19 at the Harvard Exit theatre. While a sold-out show is not necessarily unusual, the content of the films made it remarkable. The films, titled collectively as American Refugees, are four animated shorts that tell the stories of families, homelessness and their resilience against all odds.

siff harvard exit theatre
Marquee at the Harvard Exit theatre. Photo by Steve Schimmelman.

Seattle University’s Film and Family Homelessness Project had recruited five professional filmmakers to create these films. Seattle University students were involved throughout the process — assisting the filmmakers as Student Fellows, helping to develop discussion guides, designing collateral and finally, volunteering at the event itself.

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New Films on Family Homelessness Premiered, Available for Download

Our sister program, the Film & Family Homelessness Project, has created four new animated short films about real families, homelessness and resilience.

american refugees

“American Refugees” premiered to great acclaim last night, and now you can watch these remarkable films online at http://www.americanrefugees.org.

Visit our Facebook page to see photos from the Firesteel green screen booth and photos from the screening and after-party.

Then, watch the films and share them with your friends, family, colleagues, church, school group — anyone who needs to hear about how important it is to end homelessness among families. Download a discussion guide too!