In the documentary The Homestretch, directors Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare shine an honest light upon the nationwide phenomenon of homeless youth. The Homestretch places on display three teenagers from Chicago named Roque, Kasey, and Anthony. The directors raise heartrending, hard-hitting questions about the proactivity of the system in place for the homeless: Does it fail to provide sufficient infrastructure to the people who need it most? Do city programs lend a hand to young people with nowhere to go, or is the institution apathetic to their struggles?
Moreover, the film’s subject transcends its 90-minute runtime. The camera zooms out of the three individual stories to give the audience a peek into Chicago’s homeless shelters in their natural state. Shown in the film are several organizations who provide aid to the transient, but who are critically low on funding. One such association, the Night Ministry, is depleted of funds entirely by the film’s conclusion. Despite these realistic obstacles, a thread of hope runs through the motivations of the three adolescents. They juggle real-life responsibilities while, as they navigate the peaks and valleys of emotional recovery. Some of their challenges include the difficulty of finding a steady desk job (Anthony) while living at a transient house, graduating high school with a teetering GPA (Roque) after being abandoned by a parent, and kicking a dastardly drug habit (Kasey) while dealing with the trauma from parental abuse.
“In the end, The Homestretch is story of a broken system, not broken people. After watching, one can’t help but wonder if a small tweak in policy could make a world of difference for thousands of youth.”
— Matt Pollock, Chicago Magazine
Did You Know?
Featured in the documentary The Homestretch, The Night Ministry celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016 which was created to serve individuals on Chicago’s nightime streets who were struggling with loneliness, despair, poverty, substance abuse and homelessness. Review our Gay Themed Films here