watch a festival
Ninth Annual Festival
Director: Emile Bokaer
Producer: Emile Bokaer
Winner of the Perspectives Award
ABOUT THE FILM
More about Looking Back from Director Emile Bokaer
I learned about Albert Lewis while reading a newspaper article about the Homeless Veteran Emergency Housing Facility, a place where Lewis and other homeless veterans formed a community where they could improve their lives.
Lewis, 67, was twice wounded, which merited two Purple Hearts in Vietnam. He later learned photography in college. Like many other veterans, Lewis is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. By way of his photography, Lewis keeps track of the progress of other vets. “I take pictures of people when they first come here,” Lewis said, “to show them how bad they used to look.”
Lewis’ photos struck me as very powerful. The veteran was eloquently using art as a way to look back, but to also gauge progress. Lewis’s project was helping others recover.
I consider Looking Back a film about recovery as an ongoing process. For the veterans I met, struggles continue, but the community around them is the greatest source of hope. In addition to drawing attention to the terrible impact war has on human beings, I hope Looking Back serves as an example of how homeless people can recover and thrive with the support of their respective communities.