Political power players and proactive citizens gathered for HBO’s exclusive reception and a prescreening of award-winning filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi’s latest documentary.
By Madeleine Frank
After an hour-long reception offering everything from small bites of fruit and cheese to full plates of moo shu pancakes, guests filed excitedly into the National Press Club’s ballroom. The grand room had been turned into a movie theater, complete with a huge screen and row after row of seats. The sole topic of conversation that could be heard amidst the chatter was what people expected from award-winning filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi’s latest documentary, “Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County.”
The film was preceded by several introductions, the first of which was given by Save the Children’s Senior Vice President Mark Shriver. His speech, full of shocking statistics about homeless youth in this country, paved the way for Illinois Congresswoman Judy Biggert to inform the audience of what measures she and others in Congress were taking to alleviate the problem. Her remarks were followed by Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, in attendance just hours after the signing ceremony for the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.
The documentary proved to be not only informative but also moving and emotional. The bulk of the film is made up of interviews with children and their hard-working families who pay rent week-to-week in drug- and violence-ridden motels in Orange County, California. Although these children present a lot of disturbing information, it is intertwined with moments of optimism and hopefulness. There is a great deal of footage from the classrooms at the Project Hope School, a program that offers education and a stable environment to many of the children in the film.
Following the screening, journalist Judy Woodruff led a panel of experts on homeless issues: Susan J. Blumenthal, M.D, Barbara Poppe, Nan Roman and Barbara Duffield. What began as a simple question and answer session evolved into a lively discussion between the panel and the audience, including extensive remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the filmmaker’s proud mother.
Homeless: The Motel Children of Orange County premieres on HBO tonight, July 26, at 9 PM.