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Film offers conversation on community spaces, homelessness

On a bitterly cold night a large group of homeless men decide they’re not going to leave the public library at closing time. It hasn’t happened — but it could.

That scenario is the subject of “The Public”, a new film written by and starring Emelio Estevez. The Nelson Public Library and Nelson at its Best have joined forces to screen the film on Tuesday, October 1 at 7 p.m. at the Nelson Civic Theatre.

Following the movie will be a panel discussion on the topic of public libraries, homelessness and safe spaces.

In “The Public”, what begins as a nonviolent sit-in as shelter from the elements soon escalates into a standoff with police led by a crisis negotiator (Alec Baldwin) and a savvy district attorney (Christian Slater)—who has his own agenda. In the middle are two librarians, played by Emilio Estevez and Jena Malone. The film puts a face to people living on the margins of society.

Panel moderator George Chandler of Nelson at its Best sees the screening as a unique opportunity to consider and discuss an important topic. “A strong value of this film is that it reflects ongoing daily realities in the word, including our community. It also populates big issues of homelessness, isolation and poverty with humanity—everyone has their own story and we are invited to see them as human beings, no matter what appearances or our own viewpoints might initially tell us. ”

Panelists include Cheryl Dowden from Ankors, Chief Constable Paul Burkart of the Nelson City Police, Tracey Therrien, Chief Librarian for the Nelson Public Library, and Jeremy Kelly from Nelson Street Outreach, who has also experienced homelessness.

“The Nelson Library is many things in our community: educational resource, literacy champion, social hub, and a safe place for those who need it,” said the Library’s Tracey Therrien.

“Our Library users come from every walk of life; this is a very relevant conversation for us, and for the community.”

Admission is by donation.