No Place Like Home
This brilliant documentary explores eight months in the life of a broken family in Seattle and powerfully depicts the cycles that keep families tied to poverty and violence from one generation to the next.
The film focuses on a young girl, Barbara, who lives with her mother, brother, and sister in homeless shelters and cheap motels. They spend their days stretching welfare checks and shuttling between shelters while they wait for public housing and a future that never seems to arrive.
Barbara’s mother recounts a childhood of abuse and violence and a period of imprisonment as an adult. As Barbara tells her story — trying to make sense of a legacy of domestic violence, poverty, and abandonment — she emerges as the primary target of her own anger. At ten, she’s “tired of moving, tired of packing… everything.”
She speaks dispassionately of being beaten by her father, of homelessness and the fears it engenders, of her mother’s prison time. Her eerie calm belies the dangers she faces, and it is clear that her home is only the latest in a long series of losses. Her resignation, her acceptance of the unacceptable, is heartbreaking. The film makes no pretense of providing answers, but it clearly shows, through the eyes of one young girl, the questions.
“No Place Like Home” is a classic documentary that is sure to engage students and generate thought, analysis, and discussion in a wide variety of courses in sociology, psychology, American studies, and women’s studies. It was produced by Kathryn Hunt.