In Emilio Estevez’s latest movie, a librarian is caught between the dilemma of being a humanitarian or following public law. Which one will you pick?
For library supervisor Stuart Goodson (Emilio's character) compassion and sympathy was the only option. This David versus Goliath story tackles some of our nation's most challenging issues, homelessness, and mental illness and sets the drama inside one of the last bastions of democracy-in-action: your public library.
VIX sat down with Emilio Estevez to talk about his new film "The Public" and the powerful message behind it.
"This project started 12 years ago with an article printed in the LA Times called "Written Off" by a Salt Lake City librarian, Chip Ward; he was going to retire but before he left wanted to document where libraries were going and how libraries across the country have become de facto homeless shelters and how in fact, librarians are now first responders," Estevez said to VIX.
The filmmaker and actor partnered up in this journey with Ryan Dowd, the executive director of Hesed House, Aurora's large homeless shelter and the creator of "The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness," to comprehend all the different aspects of someone who lives without a roof, in conflict or with an addiction.
"Making eye contact, just saying good morning, just treating people like human beings" are just the firsts steps according to Dowd to make a change, saying that even though people assume homelessness is inevitable he feels it's preventable.
And while the film sparks the conversation about an epidemic the country is suffering from, it also brings to light the role of the public library in today's world, affirming how the function of this institution has changed in the last few decades and it continues to evolve.
"When you think about those who don't have a computer or an iPad and those experiencing homelessness, they depend on the public library to get information or to access a computer, to write to their loved ones or just to look for a job or for housing; it plays a vital role for those who are not connected 24/7 to the digital age," explains Estevez.
The Powerful Message Behind "The Public"
Emilio who was also the director of the film expressed that he made a piece of entertainment with a sense of humor for an audience, but at the same time he also wants to show the deep purpose of librarians and how they are serving our society.
"I'm hoping people occupy their libraries, no the way you see in the film but to rediscover their libraries," Estevez and Dowd both added," there's a need of a conversation about homelessness in our country that we desperately need to have and we are avoiding it."
In the cast, you will see popular actors such as Alec Baldwin, Taylor Schilling, Gabrielle Union, Christian Slater, Jeffrey Wright, Jacob Vargas, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Che “Rhymefest” Smith. The director expressed gratitude toward every single person who is in "The Public" and to those who got involved to make a difference "walking the walk" in the independent film.
"I'm on a mission to make movies that matter and movies that connect with people who are looking for that same stimulation," Estevez concluded.
"The Public" opens in select theaters Friday, April 5.
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