U-M art student's documentary shows Ann Arbor's homeless

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- A documentary film captures the lives of Ann Arbor's homeless people and a group that works to help them.

Viviana Pernot shot the 37-minute documentary in the past school year as part of her senior thesis at the University of Michigan's School of Art and Design.

Pernot told The Ann Arbor News (http://bit.ly/1Eq4wcN ) that she wanted to spend her last year on the Ann Arbor campus doing something that would make a difference in people's lives.

The documentary is titled "The M.I.S.S.I.O.N." and focuses on the work of a group called MISSION that helps organize homeless people.

Pernot said she heard about a now-closed series of homeless sites called Camp Take Notice from her professors "and wanted to see what the camp was like today."

"I contacted (MISSION Board member) Peggy Lynch, who invited me to their weekly Sunday dinner and meeting," Pernot said. "For the first couple of Sundays, I did not bring my camera. I wanted the community to get to know me, and trust me and the work I wanted to do with them.

"I spent two to three days a week from September to March with the MISSION community, getting to know the people and their stories."

I tried my hardest to capture the fact that these are human beings like everyone else who need help."

The documentary, posted in its entirety on YouTube (http://bit.ly/1IrBjEA ), shows scenes from Sunday dinners at the MISSION house and deals with a number of conflicts, internal and external.

In the film, MISSION President Sheri Wander describes its members as a large, dysfunctional family.

The documentary discusses the conflict between the homeless community and Ann Arbor City Council Member Stephen Kunselman, who has publicly called for a crackdown on homeless camps. It also shows efforts by MISSION and other advocates for the homeless for the City Council to make affordable housing a priority in Ann Arbor.

Pernot said her goal was to present homeless people as individuals.

"I tried my hardest to capture the fact that these are human beings like everyone else who need help," she said.


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