Our City Festival '15: "Unsettled" Review

If your style of documentaries are the ones that make you hold your breath as you learn new information, “Unsettled” is a terrific short for you. With the cost of living in Washington, DC increasing, the number of homeless and financially stretched families ticks up too. The film, created by the 2014 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking at George Washington University, puts a face with the numbers and you’re likely to remember them long after the credits roll. 

The opening frame of the doc is on a broken rearview mirror, perhaps symbolic of a broken past. The voice of Ken Early is heard as he says “You know they always say the first year of your marriage is the toughest. I don’t think it can get no tougher than this!” Ken laughs between and after his statements as his wife, Naila, looks at him with a smirk of agreement. Ken’s laughter doesn’t come from a place of fun, but of pain. As he goes on to explain that the car they are sitting in was their home for four months. The rawness of the opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film. 

The doc runs a parallel story of Nkechi Feaster, a hard working woman whose past lay offs (three in four years) have kept her looking for financial peace and stability. She has been homeless before, and the possibility of once again being homeless is real as the job she is currently working is coming to an end. Nkechi explains that the American Dream has eluded her even though she did everything the formula said she should by getting good grades in school and getting a job. 

As the two women try to raise awareness of the plight of DC’s homeless, the toll of the struggle becomes evident in a couple heart-wrenching scenes. While the film doesn’t have a call to action at the end, it’s guaranteed to touch anyone who watches it, and hopefully spur someone to get involved. “Unsettled” plays saturday June 6th during the OUR SOUL film screening at Geothe Institut.

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.