The Rise and Fall of an American Shanty Town
In 2009 a tent city was formed on the banks of the American River in Sacramento, California composed of 1200 hundred people living in tents without proper sanitation or water supply. This film is their story.
The local media discovered this community and interest grew. Quickly the story spread attracting the attention of Oprah Winfrey, although, this proved to be a stroke of bad luck. By simply trying to speak for its inhumanity, the intrigue subsequently ended the tent city's existence. Immediately authorities were ordered to evict every person living in the new homeless community only transferring about 1 to 2 percent to shelters. A county law has now been enforced stating camping inside Sacramento city limits is illegal, forcing these human beings to nomadically move around Sacramento. This makes helping/fixing the homeless problem exponentially more difficult.
The county of Sacramento has now cut almost all of its social services funding, shutting down all their free clinics and slashing significant amount of beds in shelters. There are people dedicating their lives to curing chronic homelessness and then there are people hiding the problem's existence for a city's reputation. This film will meet both of these types of people, as well as, the people who deal with homelessness every night.
It is very difficult to quite understand what it is like to lose a job and eventually a home unless you have gone through it. However, getting the glimpse of this seemingly impossible lifestyle, and searching for the solution with the individuals who are responsible for solving such problems (senators, mayors etc) should pose the question: "If America is the super power of the world, why can't it take care of its own people?" It is important that their story be told now so we can empathize with broken humanity and revolutionize our culture into mending these atrocities.
On a larger scale this is a film about America, its ethics and the people it failed. This film is about humanity. I would like to explore the human beings who lived in the tent city, the human beings who evicted its tenants, and the human beings responsible for the eviction. The 1200 hundred people who congregated on the banks of the American River in 2009 were a subculture specific to this time in American history. Perhaps the tent city's birth may not solely rely on the devastating economy that has left millions homeless, but it is highly coincidental when the Community Council of Sacramento has reported that 88% of Sacramento's homeless population is willing and able to work .
Someone once said to me that there is a difference between "the cause" and "the symptom" and when you treat "the cause," "the symptom" goes away. If chronic homelessness is a symptom then there is a very large problem on our hands that requires some serious attention and questioning. Bold films ask bold questions, Hidden America will do this.
Is it fair to look the other way or allow our Governments to sweep human beings under the rug without helping? If so, why? So we don't feel guilty or burdened? Is Sacramento special or unique? Are the attributes to this problem ubiquitous to the homeless problem across our country? With the unemployment rate at 9.8 percent 80,000 people lose their job every month and 500 people lose their home a day. What is their story and, more importantly, who is speaking for them when it is obvious they can no longer speak for themselves? Millions of people come to this country with the hopes of living the "American Dream." Does the dream still exist, or is it hidden?
I would like to go to Sacramento and interview the the people who lived in the Shanty town before it was shut down, shelter workers, and the police who shut it down. I would start by going to the surrounding area homeless shelters and social service department. That would lead me down a trail into the subculture of Sacramento's homeless community. I would also like to interview the local politicians of Sacramento county. I have already been in contact with Social service workers and Shelter workers to help expedite my journey. The money would be for plane tickets, motel room, and equipment rental for a two week shoot in Sacramento for me and my cinematographer.
- (35 days)