“On the Fringes of San Paulo: Homeless” begins with the doc’s subjects protesting that their image has been over-exploited on film and TV. Director Evaldo Mocarzel rises to this challenge, interviewing a wide range of homeless men and women and concluding with their watching the film and, in an addendum, commenting on the way they have been depicted. Their dignity, humanity and humor will hold audience interest at festivals but also on socially aware TV webs. The feature-length film (which started as a 15-minute short screened at Rotterdam in 2001) won two top docu prizes in Brazil this year at the Gramado and Rio de Janeiro film fests.
Coming out of a five-year research project on Los Angeles, Tokyo and San Paulo, the film approaches the homeless as city dwellers who just happen to live on the streets. Much space is given to the often banal ways they ended up there. Their opinions about politics and citizens’ rights are presented along with facts about their hygienic problems, soup kitchens, fear of violence, why they dislike sleeping in shelters and their sometimes ingenious “homes.”