(Vatican Radio) Actor Richard Gere attended a screening of his new film Time Out Of Mind at a soup kitchen in Rome affiliated with the Sant'Egidio community.
The film is about a man who becomes homeless, and struggles to survive on the streets of New York. During the production, Gere spent hours disguised as a homeless man, and the film captures the actual reactions of passers-by to someone living on the streets.
Around 100 homeless people attended the screening at the soup kitchen.
Listen to the full press conference:
“It's overwhelming to see all these beautiful faces of brothers and sisters,” Gere told them.
The actor spoke to them about what his experience taught him.
“I could feel in a very visceral way what it is like to be untethered, not connected to reality any more, not connected to society anymore, not connected to friends anymore, being invisible on the streets,” Gere said.
“The thing that heals people is not money and it is not governments. It is people heal people,” – he continued – “It is people who care about each other and look each other in the eye, you want to hear their story and people who want to hear your story. And these human connections is what heals us, certainly emotionally, psychologically but even physically that's the beginning of healing us in all ways.”
The president of the Sant'Egidio community, Marco Impagliazzo, took the occasion to say people must do three things to help the homeless: “Stop, listen, help.”
“And then there is a fourth fundamental step which is to build friendship, day by day,” – Impagliazzo continued – “That is what we experience here [at this soup kitchen], and more generally the Community of Sant'Egidio where those who help and those who are helped become co-mingled with each other.”
Gere added it is important to remember anyone can hit hard times, and end up homeless.
“It's that fragile, the difference between us who have seemingly productive lives, and someone who ends up lost, a lost soul on the streets,” Gere said.