Behind the Lens


‘Moses’ Documentary About Homelessness Changes Lives

When Fran Guijarro made a short film about a man who had experienced nearly two decades of homelessness, he never imagined it would be the beginning of a 10-year-long documentary project that transformed the lives of everyone involved.

AIRED: October 12, 2017 | 0:05:01

- When I first came to San Francisco,

coming from Spain, in my mind,

San Francisco was the Golden Gate Bridge.

The tech capital of the world.

One of the wealthiest places on Earth.

So when I came and saw so many

people living on the streets, I was shocked.

But at the same time, trying to become a storyteller,

this became my inspiration, my story to tell.

- You remember when we first met?

You were trying to do your film,

and I was trying to survive on the streets.

- My school was close by your "office", your corner.

- Right.

- We bumped into each other.

- It's been a few years since I've been here,

but this is where I called my "office" for over 20 years.

Trauma, mental issues, and substance abuse.

That really lead a spiral to where it became

like, a no way out, lost family, friends.

I was just alive, but not living.

Didn't need friends, at least I thought.

But when I came here, I made a whole new family.

And Fran was a intricate part of that.

- The truth is I never planned to film you

and follow your life for 10 years.

But when we submitted the short film to festivals,

this festival invited you to go to Spain ...

- Right.

- And to get a passport you needed to be in touch

with your family, and I just happened to be

recording all of this with my little camcorder.

And then being home with my family,

you know, just traveling in Spain with you, I remember

like you took three helpings of my mom's paella?

- Oh yeah.

- And you just passed out on the couch,

We all took a siesta.

- Yeah, but that really showed the relationship

that we have to each other.

- Yeah.

- After we known each other for almost a year,

I relapsed and I didn't have anyone to really turn to,

and you showed up and it wasn't just about the film.

It was about whether I become healthy again.

- Because I care about you.

- Right.

- Because you're seeing a friend or a

family member going through a difficult moment.

- Yeah, I really needed to know that.

And you definitely helped me reconnect, within myself

to be able to, I don't know -- feel,

feel some type of real emotion.

- One of the crazy things about this story

is the, you know, all people that this story attracted.

- I'm sure that you won't remember this,

but I did meet you at your "office"

on Montgomery outside Starbucks.

We started talking, and you asked me my name,

and where you from, and I said I'm from India,

and it was the first time I'd ever spoken to a person

experiencing homelessness here in the city.

And then Fran came to one of my classes

and showed the film 'Moses,' and I'm like,

I just met this guy, a couple of weeks back.

- In very little time you became a very

important part of the film.

And in the process of making the film

Diya and I fell in love with each other.

- This experience changed all of us,

finding a new connection with strangers.

And this movie hopefully will bring out,

more humanitarian and kindness in people.

And we don't want to stop with Moses' story.

So we are right now covering 100 stories

of those affected by homelessness.

And I find connections with each one of them.

And I'm no different; it can happen to anybody.

- As artist I think that we are all trying to shake

people and wake up people and move people.

But with this movie I ended up being shaken myself,

so in the process of trying to make a piece

of a storytelling, to shake the world,

I ended up shaking my own.

- And I hope that this film shows that

whatever state you are in, in life, you just have to reach

out and try to connect, and you will connect.

(guitar music)


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