Film Review: Pier Kids

It’s estimated that there are over half a million homeless people living in America today. Although that number could easily be much higher. There are many reasons why people have to (or choose to) live on the streets, including addiction, unemployment or simply having nowhere to go. One of the main reasons young LGBTQI+ adults find themselves in this situation is because they’ve been kicked out of home. A recent study found that homelessness rates among African American adults are significantly higher than their white peers.

Shot in mostly 2011 and 2012, but spanning a period of five years, Pier Kids follows the waifs and strays who reside in the streets around Christopher Street Pier, New York City. A hodgepodge community has sprung-up around this area. A surrogate family, of sorts. Director Elegance Bratton, who spent a decade on the streets himself, follows three gay and transgender youths of colour who became homeless after coming-out to their families.

Pier Kids is a rough and ready portrait of endurance and fellowship. Their situations are often precarious, at best, and yet they struggle on. Supporting each other through thick and thin. Bratton’s film is almost frighteningly DIY, which works both for and against it. At times it can be difficult to hear and yet this cinema verité style is perfect for the subject matter. Making it raw and alive. Pier Kids is a contemporary picture of fragile and hardy youth.

Pier Kids is in UK cinemas from 8 October.

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