THE HOMESTRETCH follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future. Each of these resilient, inspiring teenagers—Roque, Kasey and Anthony—will surprise 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.
Through haunting images, intimate scenes, and first-person narratives, these teens take us on their journeys 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.
With unprecedented access into the Chicago Public Schools, The Night Ministry's Crib emergency youth shelter and Teen Living Programs' Belfort House, THE HOMESTRETCH follows these kids as they move through the milestones of high school while navigating a landscape of couch hopping, emergency shelters, transitional homes, street families and a school system on the front lines of this crisis. The film examines the struggles these youth face in obtaining a high school level education, and then follows them beyond graduation to focus on the crucial transition when the structure of school vanishes and homeless youth struggle to find the support and community they need to survive and be independent. A powerful, original perspective on what it means to be young, homeless and building a future in America today.
"Offers a powerful look at the non-academic challenges that some teens face while trying to complete high school. Recommended." —Video Librarian
National PBS Broadcast on "Independent Lens"
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
Human Rights Watch Film Festival
St. Louis International Film Festival
Cleveland International Film Festival
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Kansas International Film Festival
High Falls Film Festival
Indie Memphis FilmFest
Anchorage International Film Festival
Citizen Jane Film Festival
Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival
"This thoughtful and sobering program changes the perception of homelessness by offering a personalized view of three smart, ambitious teens." —Booklist
"A very moving portrait of teenage homelessness that touches our very being and deserves to be viewed by a very wide audience." —Library Journal
"The devastation of watching these kids is realizing how much they have to give. Their lives are as valuable as mine, or yours, yet due to circumstances, they are given little-to-zero agency over the outcome...There are ideas of what homeless people are, that they perhaps deserved it, but all this movie shows is the injustices of such a circumstantial thing. The lasting legacy of this film is the three of them; battling in a terrible situation, but embodying a beautiful humanity as they try and push forward, onto the next step." —IndieWire
"De Mare and Kelly stick close to their subjects, compassionately capturing their many challenges...and triumphs. They also sketch in the larger world of Chicago's homeless youth, visiting the public schools where the roster of displaced students rises each semester, and hanging out in emergency shelters like the 'Crib' where forlorn adolescents hope to procure a nightly spot via lottery... Heartrending." —A.V. Club
"An unprecedented look into the day-to-day lives of three of the estimated 1.6 million homeless youth living in the United States...While the subjects all have different stories, they share in one important common theme: the dissolution of their bond with key family members. Their stories are powerful in how they counter the prevailing misconceptions surrounding what leads many young people in the U.S. into homelessness." —The Huffington Post
"The film captures the complexities of this crisis well... I would highly recommend this film for educational settings at all levels." —Lori A. Nessel, Esq., Seton Hall University of Law School
"A moving and insightful look into the complexities of youth homelessness... the film provides an entry point to a larger discussion of the systemic barriers to eradicating youth homelessness." —Alan Dettlaff, University of Illinois at Chicago
"In a compassionate and eloquent manner, this film provides a rare glimpse into the lives of several homeless youth as they struggle to find stable and healthy environments away from the streets." —Dr. Jeff Karabanow, Dalhousie University