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Long Story Short    cover photo

Long Story Short 2016

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710

Directed by Natalie Bookchin
DVD , color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Homelessness, Identity, Poverty, Sociology, Urban Areas, Western United States

Date Entered: 01/13/2017

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

In 2012-2013, Natalie Bookchin, a media artist and professor at Rutgers University, invited residents of several social services agencies in northern and southern California to speak openly about what it means to “live on limited resources” in the wealthiest country in the world. While it may be a common misperception that homelessness is a choice, those interviewed quickly make it clear that it is not. In an economic system in which it is impossible to earn enough for housing, utilities, transportation, childcare, insurance, and food, many of those interviewed became homeless while working at low-paid jobs. Likewise, without a phone, permanent address, or income, it is extremely difficult to find employment. Likewise, without a phone, permanent address, or any income, it also is extremely difficult to find employment. The cycle of poverty described by the interviewees is one for which there may be no escape and one that deeply affects those caught in it.

Hundreds of video interviews made on laptops, tablets, and phones at homeless shelters, food banks, and job centers in Los Angeles and Oakland are effectively woven together using split screen editing and overlapping audio techniques. Although societal issues surrounding poverty and homelessness are complex, those interviewed successfully make that long story short as each articulately describes his or her unique “situation.” The award-winning short film is a reminder that as a society we cannot know or understand what another is going through until we ask.