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Teens encounter struggles, triumph

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s taken Anne de Mare five years to complete her latest documentary. And, she’s been having a great time taking it around the country.

She will be at a free screening is part of the New Mexico PBS Community Cinema at the KiMo series at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. There  will have a discussion with audience members about the film. It will also air at  10.m. April 18 on channel 5.1.

“I’m excited to be coming to the KiMo,” she says. “I’ve only been in the theater once and my family lives there. I used to live in Santa Fe before I moved to New York City to work on films.”

“The Homestretch” follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate and build a future.

Each of these smart, ambitious teenagers – Roque, Kasey and Anthony – will surprise, inspire and challenge audiences to rethink stereotypes of homelessness as they work to complete their education while facing the trauma of being alone and abandoned at an early age.

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“We wanted to put a documentary out there that made people think,” she says. “It was important for us to tell a compelling story about a subject that a lot of people overlook.”

De Mare says the documentary is told through haunting images, intimate scenes and first-person narratives.

She says each teen takes the audience on his journey of struggle and triumph. As their stories unfold, the film connects us deeply with larger issues of poverty, race, juvenile justice, immigration, foster care and LGBTQ rights.

“I don’t want to give too much away, but each one of the stories is compelling,” she says. “These teens aren’t the typical faces of homelessness that has been ingrained in our heads.”

For five years, De Mare and Kirsten Kelly had access in the Chicago Public Schools, The Night Ministry Crib emergency youth shelter and Teen Living Programs’ Belfort House, all in Chicago, to tell the stories.

De Mare says that in Chicago public schools, there are 22,000 homeless teens.

“It’s a more common story than we actually think,” she says. “Under federal law, there is to be a homeless liaison within each school district.”

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She says in many cases in Chicago, there is a liaison almost at every school.

De Mare says what’s been surprising about showing the documentary around the country is how many young people are responding to it.

“I was up in Anchorage and they have a lot of homeless children,” she says. “It’s a very tough subject to talk about. This documentary is about the teenagers and their struggles to make it out of the situation they are in. Each one of them is taking steps to make their lives better.”

De Mare says audience members who have seen the film come up to her after the screenings and find some commonality with the characters.

“Some of the kids come up and say they know a million young men like Anthony,” she says. “What they are responding to is the realistic portrayal that we captured. What it’s like to be young, looking for a place in the world. It’s empowering.”

A Rising Star: Allen Maldonado has created some buzz with his roles in ABC’s “Black-ish” and the Sundance Film Festival breakout film “Dope.” Helmed by Rick Fumuyiwa, the “Dope,” ignited a bidding frenzy among several studios after its spectacular premiere, which tells a hilarious coming-of-age story that follows a group of modern-day, over-achieving geeks obsessed with ’90s music, fashion and pop culture.

He also starred alongside Jennifer Aniston in “Cake” and has the biopic “Straight Outta Compton” coming up in August. Visit abqjournal.com/reelnm to read more about Maldonado and his upcoming project coming to New Mexico.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter at @agomezART.

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