The first screening for this year’s Sarasota Film Festival was followed by a panel by its director and one of its stars. Oren Moverman and Ben Vereen said the film intentionally looked at the lives of the actively ignored as it explored the challenges of homelessness.
“It’s not just being invisible,” Moverman said of the lives of the homeless in New York City. “It is more like there is a forcefield to avoid. People didn’t even look.”
Time Out Of Mind follows the life of George, a man who has been homeless for a decade but only now is coming to grips with his station in life. Estranged from his only family, he eventually turns to a homeless shelter. There he meets Dixon, played by Vereen, and the two set out together weathering the difficult streets.
Moverman revealed in the panel afterword that the movie was shot almost entirely with fixed cameras hidden in the city. That was partly to evade immense attention suddenly being turned toward Gere, but amazingly, Gere was able to go unnoticed by most New Yorkers.
Vereen was surprised how much the actors could get away with. The character of Dixon is more boisterous and rowdy than George, and Vereen would frequently shout and howl out in laughter during the filming. “Pretty much everybody knows my laugh,” Vereen said, “but everyone still ignores me. They feel like you are a leperm and are afraid to touch you. It’s an embarrassment to the eye of psychology.”
Hiding cameras and filming from odd perspectives out bathroom windows and tents already helped communicate the way these men’s lives were playing out even as the rest of the world continued unaffected by the presence of the transients.