On Jan. 22, The Cinema Society with fashion house Alice & Olivia hosted a screening of Roadside Attractions' "Gimme Shelter" at MoMA. Many celebrities attended the event including Tony Danza, Billy Connolly, Tyra Banks, Taryn Manning ("Orange is the New Black"), Ralph Macchio, Alysia Reiner ("Orange is the New Black"), Jamie Chung, Stacey Bendet Eisner (Alice & Olivia), La La Anthony, Valerie Simpson (Ashford & Simpson), Kweku Mandela (Nelson Mandela's grandson), Tracie Thoms ("The Devil Wears Prada"), Diane Guerrero ("Orange is the New Black"), Eric West, Monique Coleman ("High School Musical"), America Olivo and Christian Campbell, Condola Rashad, Jaime Cepero ("Smash"), Jay Giannone ("American Hustle," "The Departed"), Keenyah Hill (CBS show "Power"), Amy Fine Collins, Roberto Bolle, Garrett Neff, Frederique Van Der Wal, Gretta Monahan, Ricky Paull Goldin, Daniel Benedict, Nina Griscom, Richie Notar, Jane Holzer, Jazmin Grimaldi and Cinema Society Founder Andrew Saffir.
Based on a true story, "Gimme Shelter" tells the story of a teenager who sets out to find her Wall Street father and is forced into the streets in a desperate journey of survival. The story behind the film is truly remarkable.
What inspired you to go visit the shelter?
Ronald Krauss: I work a lot in the human sector and human interest projects and I just finished another film, which is a human trafficking film and I was visiting my brother for Christmas and it just so happened that he lived about a mile from the shelter, so someone had told me about these shelters and one day I went to volunteer and knocked on the door and when I walked in I saw exactly what was in the film, which was mothers and babies and teenage girls and homeless women. It was really very fascinating and a woman who had dedicated 33 years of her life, who no one knows, who has helped thousands of people selflessly every day and I really just wanted to capture this because I thought it could really inspired others. Simple acts of kindness to open up shelters and especially in these times, which we are facing some of the toughest economic times in the history of our country and I know that this could relate to many many people who are suffering - families and marriages that fell apart people who lost jobs and this would really be an inspiration for everyone to never lose hope.
We also spoke with Kathy DiFiore who was the main the inspiration for the film and is the founder of Several Sources Shelters.
Speak about how you got involved with the film.
Kathy: I am the founder of the several sources shelter. I have been doing this work for 33 years. The film is based on the real life experiences at our shelters. It's a heart wrenching film. It's a true story. It tells about Apple based on two of our mothers combined. The director writer producer lived in one of our shelters for a full year, so it's not based on a book that he wrote again to make it a screenplay - it is based on an original screenplay that he experienced. I think he did a wonderful job and I think Vanessa did the "Leonardo Da Vinci" job of acting in the part.
How did the director contact you?
Kathy: His brother lives a mile away from the shelter and I've been doing this work for 33 years. I was honored at the White House by Ronald Reagan. Mother Teresa and I actually started a shelter in Neward and she and I worked on getting the shelter laws in New Jersey changed so that my shelters could be legal and all of that is documented and people know me around the country and he picked up the phone one day and said he was in N.J. for Christmas and asked if he could come to the shelter and asked if I would allowed him to sit and talk with me and volunteer and I said okay. And he stayed and he volunteered to document things that were going on on film. We didn't have that.
Did he document things on video?
Kathy: Yeah he began to make videos for us and he said I really want to do a movie and I said absolutely not. You were supposed to just document and as time passed the girls kept telling him more about themselves on the video and we would go out to dinner and he was telling me things I'd never heard before and I thought wow they trust him and I heard a little voice inside my heart say trust him and when that happened I sat down with him one night and said tell me what you want to do? And I said that's not gonna work, but if you tell the story of the mothers and you honor them and you tell the story of the shelter not me! Focus on the mothers, then we will do something together and he said you don't ask a lot and a year later he had the screenplay.
How long was the process?
Kathy: Christmas of 2009 and now we are finally premiering it. It's like a dream come true.
The evening was also presented by Nespresso and a chic after party followed at Harlow. "Gimme Shelter" is now playing.