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Homelessness & Poverty
Feature Films & Documentaries

Feature Films

An Angel at My Table
(Dir. Jane Campion, 1990)
Based on the life of Janet Frame, one of New Zealand's most distinguished authors, who grew up in poverty, suffered a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia, underwent electroshock therapy, and ultimately found literary fame.
Caveman's Valentine
(Dir. Kasi Lemmons, 2001)
Homeless and misunderstood, Julliard-trained piano genius, Romulus, finds a frozen corpse outside his Manhattan cave. Romulus risks his remaining sanity to prove who committed the murder for the sake of justice.
Fisher King
(Dir. Terry Gilliam, 1998)
A deejay who finds himself penniless is plucked from disaster by a homeless history professor who lives in a fantasy world full of castles, Red Knights and damsels in distress. Together they begin a modern quest for redemption and the Holy Grail.
The Pursuit of Happyness
(Dir. Gabriele Muccino, 2007)
The story of a father and young son who struggle with homelessness and unemployment in a quest that ultimately makes the father a respected millionaire. Based on a true story.
Slums of Beverly Hills
(Dir. Tamara Jenkins, 1998)
Humorous, semi-autobiographical film about a penniless, dysfunctional family that bounces from one dumpy apartment to the next throughout Beverly Hills, all in an attempt to keep the kids in a good school district.
The Soloist
This movie, based on the book by Steve Lopez, tells the true tale of a Los Angeles newspaper reporter (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) who discovers a brilliant street musician (played by Jamie Foxx).
Steal me
(Dir. Melissa Painter, 2007)
A homeless 15-year-old is lost somewhere between boyhood and manhood. A loner and a thief, he doesn't have the maturity to cope with consequences. In a small town he meets a local family who takes him in, but is he ready for a better life?
Tokyo Godfathers
(Dir. Satoshi Kon and Shôgo Furuya, 2003)
Three homeless friends (a transvestite, an ex-biker, and a runaway teenager) discover an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve and attempt to find its parents.

Documentaries & TV Programs

Crossing the American Crises (Cruzando las crisis Norte Americanas): From Collapse to Action
The United States has recently experienced a huge financial crisis. This documentary examines the ways in which this has affected American workers, beginning in 2008 at the beginning of the recession and revisiting the situation in 2010.
Dark Days
(Dir. Marc Singer, 2000)
Documentary about a community of homeless people living in a train tunnel beneath Manhattan.
Empress Hotel: Stories of the Residents
(DVD) HV4506.S355 E47 2009x
The ninety people who stay at the Empress Hotel all struggle with mental illness or drug addiction. This film shares the story of ten of the Hotel's residents.
Fly Away Home
This Reading Rainbow TV Episode is based on Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting, a story of a homeless boy and his father who live in an airport.
Harvest of Shame
(Dir. Fred W. Friendly, 1960)
In this CBS News production broadcast on Thanksgiving 1960, Edward R. Murrow points out the plight of migrant farm workers in America, exposing the harsh living conditions, endless travel, low wages, and poor opportunities for their children.
Homeless in America: Without a Home
(Film for the Humanities and Sciences, 2006)
Looks at the realities of homelessness from the perspective of several homeless teens. Attempts to dispel some of the myths regarding the homeless.
It Was a Wonderful Life
(Dir. Michèle Ohayon, 1993)
Follow six intelligent, articulate women who had secure, active and fulfilling lives and are now living out of their cars or in cheap motels.
Life in a Basket
(Dir. David Hogan, 2005)
Several homeless people discuss life on the street, focusing on the contents of their respective shopping carts.
Waging a Living
(Dir. Roger Weisberg, 2006)
Profiles four of America's working poor as they struggle to get out from beneath the poverty line. Underscores injustices inherent in the American economic system.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
(Dir. Judy Irving, 2005)
A documentary about a flock of wild urban parrots living in San Francisco and the homeless man who befriended them.