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PROMISES TO KEEP

USA, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Ginny Durrin

Homelessness is one of the scourges of the world's 'richest' nation. This is the story of the determined fight by Mitch Snyder and the Community for Creative Non-Violence to cteate a decent shelter for the homeless of Washington DC, a fight carried on in the face of official indifference, hostility, double-dealing and vindictiveness.

The title refers to the way in which funding, originally promised by the Reagan administration, had to be extracted by a public campaign which culminated in a deathbed fast by Snyder. Media, politics and the homeless all play a part in a story which combines vivid portraits of activists and bureaucrats with controversial public hearings and confrontations.

Although there is a 'happy end', there is no suggestion that the problem of homelessness itself has been successfully tackled. The strength of the film lies in the way it shows that people who are generally depicted by media as responsible for their own misfortunes can achieve added dignity by making common cause and winning the odd battle in a seemingly unwinnable war. - (GH)

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