Street Reporter

A heartwarming and positive short film by director Kaura Waters Hinson about homelessness. Not normally what you get from a documentary about that particular subject, is it? But in this instance, take my word for it, it is. Poignant but you will walk away from it feeling like there is hope for some. That a difference can be made.

Here we follow a homeless woman who is looking to become a photojournalist. Despite the fact that she is living on the streets she has dreams. Here we are urged to see the person and not the situation. That someone living on the street should be seen as useless, lazy, mentally ill, or someone with nothing to give. Perspective and education are everything here.

At 58 years old Sheila White is living on the streets in Washington, D.C. She is not alone, as there are many who find themselves in the same situation. Though the universal story of trying to survive while living on the streets is addressed, it is Sheila who is focused upon.

Often those living on the street become invisible. We don’t know how or want to deal with the issue so we largely ignore it. But here we are reminded that they are human beings. That they have needs and desires. Sheila wants to come out of the shadows of homelessness to find her voice. That voice, she believes, will come through her desire to become a photojournalist. Sheila is photographing life on the streets. Bringing awareness and realism to what it means for those living there. An added bonus would be that if she earns a living doing this then Sheila would be able to get off the streets.

Sheila works for the Street Sense newspaper and she and her work partner Reggie document life in Washington, D.C.’s Tent City. While she is going around taking pictures we get to meet her subjects. Begin to hear what their lives are like and what they think. While Sheila is working on this COVID-19 begins and has an effect. But maybe not the one you expect.

As the film went on I began to realize that the mere fact of having a place to live seems to humanize the same person who had been homeless. It is almost as if we blame a homeless person for their situation. We see here there are precious few who want to live on the street. Most are struggling to get a roof over their head.

A powerful journey takes place before our eyes here. It is about Sheila but there are probably many other Sheilas going through the same struggle.