LInas Phillips spent nearly two years getting to know nine of Seattle's homeless population. The result is a unique and compassionate exploration of the hard luck, wrong turns and broken dreams that reside on the city's streets. This film uncovers circumstances that have landed (and keep) these people lost and penniless - most involving abuse, addiction, and mental illness. But it also finds kindness and hope. Each subject was asked to recite a famous speech from history that they felt related to their lives. The words of Shakespeare, Lincoln, JFK and others are reinvested with meaning as they're tied to these personal stories. From atop the Space Needle high above the parking garage in which she lives, Deborah delivers a speech by former slave Sojourner Truth asking, "Ain't I a woman?" Jose's recitation poses a question that most in the film have pondered: whether it is nobler to suffer outrageous fortune or to die. We're reminded that the authors of these canonized speeches, the downtrodden folks reciting them, and each of us are all part of the same human endeavor. With beautiful photography and a musical score by Lori Goldston and Tara Jane O'Neil, GREAT SPEECHES is one of the most intimate encounters with homelessness on film and a moving meditation on the fragility of life.
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