In from the cold


"It's a cold, cold world," says Thomas, a homeless man living in Chicago, in the opening scene of More Colder for the Homeless, a 30-minute documentary by Christian Doll, AB'06, AM'07. Friday night was no exception: about 50 students and faculty braved negative wind chills and flurries to attend the film's premiere, held in Cobb's Film Studies Center.

Doll started shooting More Colder in August 2006 after doing a Summer Links internship at Southwest Chicago PADS, an ecumenical organization that provides resources and services for the homeless. Originally meant to be a promotional video for PADS, Doll's project was expanded to educate people about Chicago's homeless community—a topic that became his master's thesis. "These are not homeless people," he said at the screening. "They are people living in a homeless state" that they are forced into because of "social and internal conditions." With help from fellow students Nicole Flannigan, AB'05; Kasia Houlihan, AB'06; and Fulbright exchange student Barbara Ruhling, Doll filmed "miles of tape," said PADS executive director Sister Thérèse DelGenio, including interviews with PADS "guests"—as the organization calls its homeless visitors. Before Doll started the interviews, he feared that "people wouldn't trust me," he said in a Q & A after the screening. "But that's not the case. ... Once I showed I would just listen, it all came pouring out."

Also meant to educate prospective PADS volunteers, the film features interviews with Sister Thérèse, case managers providing guests with clothing and bus passes, and footage of PADS-organized events such as a spaghetti dinner last Valentine's Day. The organization, Sister Thérèse said, "tries to empower people, to make them realize that they have the power to change" their situation.


Photos: Christian Doll discusses his documentary and the PADS organization; Sister Thérèse greets a guest entering PADS on a cold Chicago evening.

Movie still courtesy Christian Doll.

January 29, 2008