on the edge - Library of Congress

Let's make sure on the edge has a place in history! ote new logo FHIA 10Anniv

Nomination deadline: Sept. 15, 2021

on the edge: Family Homelessness in America is a documentary..."featuring 7 women who lost their housing for a variety of reasons, gives a painfully intimate look at the entwined connection between poverty, housing issues, social problems, addictions, family crises, and gender-related injustices. These compelling and forthcoming experts on homelessness shine a bright, unmitigated light on systemic and personal causes of their struggles, illuminating what has been a dark corner of social inaction and concern." HEAR US website, OTE page

Our feature-length documentary, filmed and produced by Laura Vazquez and Diane Nilan, was released in Houston on November 8, 2010.  The film aired on PBS affiliates over Mothers' Day in 2012. It has received several prestigious festival awards, and has been viewed more than 300,000 times on YouTube (available free here). 

Why are we doing this?

Ten years after on the edge was released, America finds itself on the edge of a massive surge in homelessness, including millions of families. That was BEFORE the CoVid epidemic. Millions more families face homelessness since the pandemic. The faces and voices of families experiencing homelessness need to be seen and heard. We want OTE to be part of our nation's film history, thus the push to have it included in the Library of Congress. 

Family homelessness continues to be misunderstood and ignored, even as numbers of families (and youth) skyrocket. (How Many Homeless Kids?) Few policymakers understand family homelessness at all, which bodes ill for the newly-homeless. Covid-19 and the related evictions are creating massive homelessness. Although the Biden administration is taking steps to prevent widespread homelessness, more needs to be done. 

OTE 7 womenThe seven women who originally shared their stories for on the edge did so with a clarity that conveyed the multiple causes of homelessness. (See Other Stuff) They reflect a variety of experiences and backgrounds. Their courageous participation in this cutting-edge documentary has given hundreds of thousands of viewers unprecedented insights into homelessness as it impacts families.  Now it's time to make sure their stories become part of American film history, herstory.

Diane Nilan, HEAR US founder and one of the filmmakers, has written a book, Dismazed and Driven - My Look dismazed cover artat Family Homelessness in America, about her 15 years of cross-country travel chronicling the lives of families and youth experiencing homelessness. Her book, released in Fall 2020, is both a memoir and a social narrative.

She shares stories of the families she met during her travels, including the women of on the edge. Her book also features film clips from stories of families included in the book.


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