New Documentary Gives First-Hand View Inside D.C. General

by Sean Meehan August 26, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

A video diary that one mother kept while she and her two-year-old daughter lived at the D.C. General homeless shelter will debut at a sold-out screening tonight.

The documentary, “Raise to Rise,” was shot on an iPhone by Sasha Williams, who lived at D.C. General with her daughter, Eboni, for three months. The woman used the iPhone to document life for her and her daughter inside the former hospital that now houses about 800 homeless families.

Williams told Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak she wanted to make the video diaries to show people what life is really like inside the shelter. Her diaries cataloged the screening process to get into the shelter, the constant guard presence, the abundance of smuggled contraband and her own late-night reflections.

The iPhone that Williams used to shoot her diaries came from Street Sense Media Center, a new multimedia initiative from Street Sense, the local newspaper written and distributed by homeless men and women.

Williams edited her video diaries into a documentary with help from the center, which is presenting the documentary as part of its ongoing “Cinema From the Street” series. The premiere is tonight at E Street Cinema in downtown D.C.

Raise to Rise is one of two movies directed by homeless women that will screen tonight. The other is “Whom Should I Be Grateful To?” a documentary about a formerly homeless woman’s recovery from sexual assault and its lingering psychological effects.

Although the screenings are sold out, the films also will play during a Street Sense fundraising gala on Oct. 1.


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