Empress Hotel| 1hr : 24mins
Director: Allie Light & Irving Saraf | Producer: Roberta Goodman
Focus Years: 2009 | Country: United States
Empress Hotel is a full-length documentary that reveals the human face of homelessness. The Empress, a 90-unit permanent supportive housing model providing social and medical servicesÂ on site,Â is an environment where residentsÂ are able toÂ take hard-won steps towards stability.Â The film gives unusual access into the everyday lives of those who fell through the cracks of the social services system, focusing on the stories of ten residents.Â These stories,Â vividlyÂ narrated by the memorable characters who lived them,Â traceÂ theirÂ variousÂ paths to the Empress Hotel.Â AsÂ viewers are pulled into the tales of survival and loss, stereotypes fall away.Â Though similarly fraught by mental health, medical and substance use issues, these livesÂ representÂ a remarkable diversity of experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds and personalities.Â The intimate portraits, as surprising as they are moving,Â are the heart of the film.Â ThisÂ documentaryÂ creates awareness of a part of ourÂ society that is overlooked and fostersÂ an appreciationÂ of theÂ tremendous challengeÂ it poses toÂ individualsÂ as well asÂ the staff who support them.Â Empress HotelÂ offers a rare opportunity to witness the dailyÂ strugglesÂ and rewardsÂ involved in beginning anew, creating community, and possibly,Â transforming a life.
Meet Lynn, holder of an M.A from San Diego State University and an M.S. from M.I.T., as she reenacts her life on the street. Paul, once a successful publisher, describes his invasion by spirits that now control his body. Eddie tells about his life of anger and violence and his four arrests. Jeffrey, Sonya and Marguerite reveal their battles with addiction and RenÃ© tells of fighting mental illness. Action moves from the hotel to the streets of the Tenderloin providing insights into the lives of homeless people and their struggles.
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