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Three homeless teenagers brave Chicago winters, the pressures of high school, and life alone on the streets to build a brighter future.
Three homeless teenagers brave Chicago winters, the pressures of high school, and life alone on the streets to build a brighter future.
309 backers pledged $35,115 to help bring this project to life.

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$35,115

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UPDATE: After reaching our initial goal of $26,250, we've decided to set two stretch goals: 300 backers and $36,250. Help us get there!

We're in the Homestretch!

The Homestretch is in its final steps and we need your help! We are so close, but in these last few months, the film needs to raise $26,250 for crucial finishing funds. Your generous contribution will help us complete the final creative steps of post-production so we can finish the film and premiere this spring.

When most people think about homeless youth, they think about the ones they see - kids sleeping under the bridge or asking for help on the streets - but most homeless youth are hidden in plain sight. For the past four years, we’ve been working to capture and convey this unseen experience in a powerful cinematic language. This is the last phase of that creative process, where we bring all the pieces of the story together with a moving original musical score by Greg Kalember, and the creative tools of technical artists Dizzy Giant (graphic design), Mike Frank (sound mixing), and Jim Morrissette (color correction).

Our ultimate goal is to put the crisis of youth homelessness on the national radar, but we can’t do so without the finished film as our tool for change. Help us tell the story of these inspiring and resilient youth who are working hard to try and build strong futures while, heartbreakingly, facing the obstacles of homelessness. Help us finish The Homestretch.

The Film

The Homestretch is the story of three homeless teens – Kasey, Roque and Anthony – who are at a pivotal moments in their young lives, working to finish high school and facing crucial next steps. They introduce us to a complex and haunting landscape of couch-hopping, emergency shelters, transitional homes, street families and to a school system that is on the front lines of this crisis. 

At the beginning of the film, Anthony asks, "How are you going to make your story better? How are you going to write the next chapter in your life?"

Working on The Homestretch, we met so many kids who were asking this same question. Despite being homeless and totally on their own, they were trying so hard to survive and build a future. And for the past four years, we took our camera on their journeys with them. As they navigated huge obstacles and sought out support from an inspiring, but vastly under-resourced safety net of organizations, these resilient kids faced triumphs and heartbreak. But they keep going... and we have so much to learn from them. 

We’re excited to introduce...

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Kasey spent over a year bouncing around between friends, family members, and sleeping on the street, ultimately dropping out of high school her senior year. We meet Kasey in the film as she just enters a new transitional home and is re-enrolled in school. Kasey is a poet, a painter and is a tremendous source of support for her huge network of friends.

Due to immigration complications, Roque was forced to separate from his family and fend for himself on and off, beginning his sophomore year of high school. With an unstable family and housing situation, Roque spent several years bouncing around. One of his teachers introduced him to Shakespeare and acting and he became inspired to finish high school and go to college. With his teacher’s support, he hopes to go into theater and psychology and help others through some of the challenges he has faced.

Anthony spent his childhood in DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) and went out on his own at the age of 14. After years of jumping from school to school and being homeless, he is proud to be self-taught. He recently passed his GED and was accepted into the Year Up Chicago Program where he has an internship in telecommunications. A talented poet, rapper and entrepreneur, Anthony never stops planning and working for success.

The Homestretch is a character-driven documentary that follows these three homeless youth, as they navigate completing their high school education and then face the crucial transition after graduation, where they must learn to build a viable future with no stable home or adult support. The film is grounded in the cinema vérité tradition of capturing the drama of everyday life as it unfolds.  Themes of resilience, loneliness, and desire for lost family and community are at the center of the film, expressed in the cinematography, scene choices, and the overall narrative arc. Filmed almost entirely by the directors working as an intimate, two-person crew, The Homestretch builds a portrait that is precise and tender, while allowing viewers the time and space to experience the isolation and haunted reality of being on your own in a chaotic world. Our aim has always been to create an intimate portrait of each of our young kids from their own perspective.Letting their voices be front and center of telling the story of their struggles and triumphs as they try to build the future they hope for.      

And as the personal stories of these three teens unfold, the film connects us deeply with larger policy issues of juvenile justice, immigration, foster care, and LGBT rights (an estimated 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT). The Homestretch also documents communities who are fighting to provide support for these kids. We've worked closely with Prosser Career Academy High School and Chicago Public Schools' Students in Temporary Living Program, Teen Living Programs on Chicago's south side, and The Night Ministry's "Crib" emergency shelter which serves some of the disproportionate number of LGBT youth that are homeless. Just as with Kasey, Roque, and Anthony, we see these communities struggle and persevere.

Our Team

Anne and Kirsten have been working together for past 10 years, when we founded Spargel ProductionsAsparagus! Stalking the American Life premiered at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and went on to win Best Documentary and Audience Awards across the country. Our mission is to take on projects that inspire advocacy and change, and celebrate the human spirit. The Homestretch is our second feature film.

Our co-producers, Kartemquin Films (makers of Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters), have a rich history of social issue filmmaking. They’ve won international awards and made forty-nine wildly successful documentaries. Kartemquin has never waned in their commitment to truly independent media and sharing Chicago stories. They have been and remain a perfect incubator and partner for our film. And we are honored to have Kartemquin's Gordon Quinn and Justine Nagan and Chicago youth advocate Andrew Schwertfeger as our Executive Producers.

We’ve also already partnered with local and national organizations focused on this crisis to ensure that after the film’s completion, its impact is fully realized. Local groups, such as Teen Living ProgramsThe Night Ministry’s Crib Emergency Shelter, and Year Up Chicago, are not only featured in The Homestretch, but will be the first line of advocacy in Chicago. Meanwhile, national partner organizations, such as National Network For Youth, The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, and the True Colors Fund Forty to None Project, will help The Homestretch be a widely used vehicle for change.

We Want This Film to Have Impact

The Homestretch can spark an intensive, inspiring dialogue about how we, as a society, are addressing this complex problem of youth homelessness and how we can do better. We can’t wait for the world to meet Kasey, Anthony and Roque; their powerful, inspiring stories will shatter the often negative stereotypes that people have when they think about homeless youth.  The film will show how our teachers and public schools are on the front lines of this crisis and are often the first ones who can identify homeless kids who need help.  It also illuminates some amazing organizations and individuals who are making a huge difference in young people’s lives. We need to provide more support to our schools and social service organizations who are working with homeless youth and it is our hope that the film will motivate further action.  And finally, The Homestretch will bring a much-needed human face to this crisis and help focus empathy around proposed policy.

The power of documentary film lies in its ability to tell complex stories that serve as catalysts for organizing, network-building and civic action. The Homestretch will leverage this power through policy briefings, targeted screenings, community events, and ongoing coalition building. 

Why We’re Doing This 

We’ve been working on documentary film projects together for the past decade. After our first film, the award-winning Asparagus! Stalking the American Life, we searched a long time for what our next documentary would be. We found it through a young student who was working with Kirsten on a Shakespeare project with the Chicago Public Schools. After months of working with this H.S. senior, we were shocked to learn that this kid was homeless. He told us his story and brought us into this invisible world, a world where these teens often didn't want to be identified as "homeless" and tried to stay out of the "system" and a world where officially they were labeled as "unaccompanied youth."

In making The Homestretch, we’ve tried to craft inventive ways to combat these labels and stereotypes. We’re almost there, but need your help to complete these final creative steps. The power of documentary film lies in its ability to tell complex stories that serve as catalysts for organizing, network-building and civic action. Together we can finish The Homestretch and use it as a tool for change.    

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

Risks and challenges

Completion – Will the film get done? Though there are technology, talent, and emotional barriers to overcome in the finishing of a film, we have a dedicated staff that have already invested years. The Homestretch will get finished.

Exhibition – Will the film get seen? The strength of the film’s impact will be directly correlated to the quantity and quality of people that see it. Though exhibition of The Homestretch is still in the works, we are confident that it will play across the country and have a national television broadcast.

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    HOMESTRETCH CHAMPION - We'll give you a digital thank you, you will be forever in our hearts and listed on our website, plus we'll send you regular email updates as our film meets the world.

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    AUTOGRAPHED POSTCARD - Forever preserve our signatures on a frame-worthy postcard of an image from the film, plus digital thanks via Facebook, email and our website.

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    STREAM THE FILM - Watch an exclusive private stream of the film before it goes on general release, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, plus all the digital thanks.

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    SIGNED DVD OF THE HOMESTRETCH - Get a signed DVD of The Homestretch, plus a streaming link, and all the digital thanks.

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    NEW REWARD!! 2 tickets to Next Theatre Company's spring production of "The Great God Pan." Next produces socially provocative artistically adventurous work in Chicago. (Travel and accommodations not included).

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    FILM LOVERS PACK - Get signed DVDs of both The Homestretch and our first feature documentary, Asparagus! Stalking the American Life. And you guessed it, a streaming link of The Homestretch and all of the digital thanks.

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    SIGNED POSTER - We'll send you the official movie poster, signed by the directors and the three main subjects. Plus a streaming link and all of the digital thanks.

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    THE ADVOCATE - Join the filmmakers in Washington DC with 2 VIP tickets to our official Capitol Hill screening and accompanying advocacy events with national homeless youth advocates and lawmakers. (Travel and lodging not included).

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    THE CHICAGOAN - You'll received 2 VIP tickets for the Chicago Premiere of The Homestretch and join the whole filmmaking team for a special home-town celebration afterwards. Exact date TBA. (Travel and lodging not included).

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    THE KARTEMQUIN FAN - A listing in the film's credits, a credit on IMDB, a bundle of 5 Kartemquin DVDs & merch, Spargel Productions DVD & merch, The Homestretch Poster, and a streaming link.

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    THE KARTEMQUIN FAN 2 - a bundle of 5 Kartemquin DVDs & merch, Spargel Productions DVD & merch, The Homestretch Poster, and a streaming link.

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    THE BROADWAY EXPERIENCE NY - 2 Orchestra seats to Grammy and Tony Award winning Kinky Boots with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, whose True Colors Fund supports LGBT homeless youth, and is one of our national advocacy partners. You'll also get a signed copy of Cindi's recent memoir. (Travel and accommodations not included).

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    KARTEMQUIN VIP CHICAGO - Tour of Kartemquin Headquarters and lunch with the film's editor, Leslie Simmer, plus a streaming link to watch film. (Travel and accommodations not included).

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    SHALL WE DINE NY - Have dinner with us, Kirsten and Anne, in New York City. We'll take you to one of our favorite spots, stimulate interesting conversation, and pick up the tab! (Travel and accommodations not included).

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    HOME BUILDER - You'll host a private screening in your home with our house party kit and have a Skype Q&A with the directors and the subjects.

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    NICE TO MEAT YOU - Director Anne de Mare will come to your home and cook her famous Italian meatball supper for you and up to 8 guests! Anne will bring her talented sous chef, director Kirsten Kelly (NYC or Chicago only).

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    THE MOVIE MOGUL - Host your own night at the movies! Work with the filmmakers and our advocacy team to plan a special screening of the film in a professional theater for your friends and colleagues followed by a lively discussion with the filmmakers and special guests. (NYC or Chicago only).

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    BE AN ASSOCIATE PRODUCER - Get an Associate Producer credit on IMDB and in the final version of the film. You'll also receive 2 tickets to the world premiere and after party, plus VIP seats at the Chicago premiere and party. (Travel and accommodations not included).

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Funding period

- (30 days)