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.