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It Was a Wonderful Life (1993)

| Documentary | 1993 (USA)
Feature-length documentary deals with homeless women, once secure in their middle-class status, who through divorce, misfortune, or circumstances were reduced to living on the street.


Michèle Ohayon (as Michele Ohayon)

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Jodie Foster ... Herself / Narrator (voice)
Lou Hall Lou Hall ... Herself (as Lou)
Reena Sands Reena Sands ... Herself (Ronella) (as Reena [Ronella])
Josephine Josephine ... Herself
Marie Marie ... Herself
Terry Terry ... Herself
Alice Alice ... Herself
Marjorie Bard Marjorie Bard ... Herself - Author, "Shadow Women" (as Dr. Marjorie Bard)
Jeanette Goldberg Jeanette Goldberg ... Herself (as Jeanette)
Steve Renehan Steve Renehan ... Himself: City of Los Angeles Housing Authority
Gordon Tuthill Gordon Tuthill ... Himself: Apartment Building Owner
Wayne Doss Wayne Doss ... Himself: Director of Child Support Operations, L.A. County, District Attorney's Office
Dennis Cohen Dennis Cohen ... Himself: Center for Enforcement of Family Support
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Linda Hernandez Linda Hernandez ... Herself: Parking Enforcement, City of Santa Monica


Feature-length documentary deals with homeless women, once secure in their middle-class status, who through divorce, misfortune, or circumstances were reduced to living on the street.

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Release Date:

1993 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


[first lines]
Title Card: Thousands of homeless people in the United States are hidden and go unrecognized as homeless. The majority of them are women.
Title Card: This film is dedicated to the "Hidden Homeless" women who came forward to tell their stories and allowed us into their lives.
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Courtesy of Octave Music Publishing Corporation
Limerick Music Corporation
Timo Co. Music
Reganesque Music Co.
Composed by Erroll Garner
Lyrics by Johnny Burke
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User Reviews

24 May 2008 | by cmm957See all my reviews

This film has haunted me since I saw it. The film explores the everyday realities of the working poor (and even the middle and upper middle class) who have slipped through the cracks and ended up the hidden homeless. It shows in brutal detail the reality of life in a car, where even showers (let alone work) are a difficult luxury to obtain. It was made in 1992 (during a recession), so I only wish there was an update since the real estate boom in California--and how it affected the women in this population.

The film also painstakingly depicts the flimsiness of bureaucratic programs/solutions to aid these women and those like them, as well as the ways that government policies actively antagonize these situations . Especially painful is the part on Section 8 housing subsidies--when one of the women calls to inquire and finds that not only are there no applications being accepted, but there is also a waiting list of 3+ years for those who have already applied. And the problem of finding a landlord who will accept the vouchers.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the movie is that it did not seem that the filmmakers either 1) helped the women along, even though they were so obviously in need or 2) paid them for their participation. These are women who seem to be only a few hundred dollars or a security deposit away. And yet they are taking the time to participate in the film. I would assume that Jodie Foster and Melissa Etheridge were paid for their participation. It is not stated, but the summations of the women's situations at the end of the film seems to strongly suggest that they were left on their own again. Also, definitely get to the end of the credits for more information. Though it was made in 1992, I just wish there was some way I could reach out and help these women.

I highly recommend this film. It just stays with you.

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