On August 17th, the Network brought actor and homelessness advocate Richard Gere and director and screenwriter Oren Moverman to visit supportive housing residences in Manhattan.
On August 17th, the Network brought actor and homelessness advocate Richard Gere and director and screenwriter Oren Moverman to visit supportive housing residences in Manhattan. On the eve of releasing their hard-hitting and beautiful movie about homelessness, Time Out of Mind, the actor and director were eager to hear more detail about how supportive housing offers a bridge to a new life for chronically homeless individuals.
Last week, Mr. Moverman talked with the Network’s Sarah Schenck about making the movie.
What made you want to make this film?
A. It started with Richard. He has been pursuing this project for over a decade. I ran into him at a party and he told me that he had this script that he was obsessed with. He couldn’t figure it out. It had to be rewritten, but he wanted to play this character. When he said he wanted to play a homeless man, that got me interested because clearly Richard Gere is not on the list of actors to play homeless people. My thinking was, if he wants to step outside his comfort zone that far, there’s gotta be something interesting going on here.
Has anything changed over the decade you spent developing this script?
A. Not enough. Unfortunately, our movie is all too relevant, here we are in another time of crisis with record levels of homelessness here in NYC, and across the state and the country. The city and the state need to get together to work this out because it’s not going to solve itself. Having tens of thousands of people in New York City alone, many of them kids, living in shelters and on the streets in a rich country like the USA is inhumane. We can do better.
What don’t most people understand about homelessness that you hope they will after seeing your film?
A. We wanted to make one story about a homeless guy who’s recently homeless. On a personal level, it was just my own relationship to community, my own understanding of this city where I’ve been living for a long time and pursuing my ambitions, but without a sense of community, a sense of people coming together to deal with social issues at the core of judging what a society is.
The movie opened up for me an understanding, looking at people on the street and realizing that homelessness cannot be solved with small measures and by individuals. It has to be society’s problem. It has to be a community that comes around to deal with it.
The movie is about how isolated one man feels and his lack of connection to community. Richard and I toured two supportive housing residences in Harlem last month with the Supportive Housing Network of New York – the Fortune Society’s Castle Gardens and Goddard Riverside’s Corner House, and we felt it immediately: that these residences created not just housing, but homes. And that what made the sense of home were the people who worked there. The critical work you are doing to create a bridge back to community for vulnerable people really made a big impression on us. The buildings are beautiful, yet what struck me most was the sense of community, the warm embrace of a real family.