In February, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) provided a private screening of the film TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell
for the attendees of the 2016 National Conference to End Family and Youth Homelessness in Oakland, CA. The film is a follow up to the Academy Award-nominated film Streetwise
provides an unflinching depiction of intergenerational poverty and the long-lasting impact of homelessness and addiction. In 1984, director Martin Bell and acclaimed documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark spent over a year documenting the lives of homeless children living on the streets of Seattle. The film and photographic exhibition that they created during this time – both titled Streetwise
– portrayed the challenges faced by homeless youth.
Mary Ellen and Martin continued filming on and off with one of the film’s characters, Erin (a.k.a. Tiny), for the next 32 years, as Erin battled drug addiction and became a mother to 10 children, half of whom ended up in the foster care system. The filmmakers have shown the film to several groups of social workers who stated that the longitudinal study would also be a great teaching for those working in the homelessness response system. The filmmakers believe that it can help shift beliefs about poverty, addiction, and homelessness from ones of judgment and hopelessness to those of possibility and empathy. Mary Ellen Mark’s portraits often captured people on the edge of society, and her work is celebrated for its empathic beauty and startling honesty.
The filmmakers’ hope is that social service providers will find the film a valuable tool for energizing their efforts to end homelessness in America and engaging local stakeholders in challenging conversations about poverty.
If interested in hosting a screening of this film in your community, please contact Mikaela Beardsley, Impact Producer, with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a screening fee of $300, however a waiver may be available when necessary.