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Monday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m.
JCC Theater, Free
Much as I hate the investigative reports of local TV news affiliates, Out in the Cold would have done well to get its fingernails a little dirtier when making this film. I’m talking some aggressive, gritty, camera-in-face, street-level sensationalism. Anyone dead set on making a film about homeless gay youth would have entered that world full-force. Instead, we’re kept at safe distance from the kids on the street, as if they were uncaged wild animals.
The interviews with the homeless and formerly homeless youths take place in a sterile, conference roomy environment, with the subjects all made up for proper TV, telling stories about the streets that we don’t get to see.
The result is part After-School Special, part educational video, part 60 Minutes interview. Why the filmmakers didn’t integrate themselves into the true world of the homeless youths is a question up for grabs. The way the kids are filmed on the street — from afar, so that we only see black jackets, cigarettes, and punk rock hair, but never get to hear them speak — only enhances their image as dangerous packs of feral delinquents. Dressed up smart for the camera, they seem safer before they even have a chance to tell their stories, totally defeating the point.
One of the few street scenes is filmed during the day at a trash-ridden "urban campground," and shows us the empty makeshift beds that the homeless youths will be sleeping in that night. A creepy little scene, for sure, but why didn’t the filmmakers actually go there at night when the youths were present and talk to them? That would have come closer to showing us the thoroughly unglamorous world of homelessness. — WD