Film challenges street life assumptions

Kim Freeman is an active drug user. She's also the only harm reduction service provider able to reach some members of the street community.

Kim Freeman is an active drug user. She also happens to be the only harm reduction service provider who is able to reach some of the most deeply entrenched members of the street community here in the City of Gardens. Freeman hands out safer drug use supplies from her apartment, serving people in her community who would otherwise go without not only a clean needle, but the care, love, and respect she generously provides.

Freeman is just one of a dozen or more street-involved people featured in the recently released documentary, Transform Homelessness Advocacy Watch (THAW). Commissioned by the Committee to End Homelessness, the film interviews a cross-section of people whose lives touch the streets, from addicts to advocates to business owners on the 900 block of Pandora.

The film’s opening image — four men pinning one hungry man to the ground for stealing a piece of chicken — is a visual summary of the question director Kim “Hothead” Hynes asks throughout: “Everyone has a story,” he says, “so why do we criminalize some and not others?”

THAW exposes a city that has abandoned the street community and a police force that continues to harass them. At the same time, and in direct contrast to the dog-eat-dog image projected onto street life, the film illustrates the network of street-involved people, social service providers and even business owners who support one another.

This support and the strength of street-involved people is the substance of Hynes’ film. “The idea of the THAW is that we have to watch out for each other, especially on the street. The street can help teach the community.”

It’s easy to nurture our assumptions about life on the streets of our city — to think that through media and images presented to solicit charity we can form an accurate image of that life. THAW shows us a side of the street community that can’t be seen by passing someone on a corner or reading the news.

Neither the film’s creators nor the people it interviews play to stereotypes or ask for pity — instead, they encourage housed people to learn from the community that we so willingly ignore.

To find out about screening dates or to donate to the film, visit ctehv.wordpress.com. M

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