Cinematic spotlight on homelessness seeks Reel Justice

How many times have you been approached on the street for money? How many homeless people do you see sleeping in doorways or alleyways? How many times have you felt unsafe walking down the street because there were homeless people there?

Alternately, how many times have you sat down to actually talk to some homeless people to get to know them? Have you ever offered help? What have you done to help change the situation?

Vancouver's homeless problem has been on everyone's radar. But what can be done?

While most homeless initiatives focus on issues such as mental illness, addiction, crime, and family problems, SFU economics professor Krishna Pendakur says that the main reasons that force people out on to the streets—low income and high rents which force people out of accommodations—are often overlooked.

Pendakur will be a part of an academic panel at a one-day film festival in Vancouver about homeless called Reel Justice on Sunday (April 19). Films about homelessness will screen all day at SFU Harbour Centre (515 West Hastings Street).

Among the selections are:
Ӣ Nettie Wild's Bevel Up, about street nurses on an outreach program on the Downtown Eastside;
Ӣ Murray Siple's Carts of Darkness, about bottle collectors who ride grocery carts around North Vancouver;
Ӣ the interventionist documentary Devil Plays Hardball, in which four established Vancouverites are teamed up with four homeless people in an attempt to mentor them and get them off the street;
”¢ Métis director Christine Welsh's Finding Dawn, an investigation into the countless missing aboriginal women in Canada. whose cases have been unresolved;
Ӣ Les Merson's "Something to Eat, A Place to Sleep, and Someone Who Gives a Damn", a short documentary about Vancouver homeless issues as well as people who have turned their lives around.

For a full list of films and other details, visit the official Web site.

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