The Common Good

The New Faces of Poverty

Date: February 21, 2013

An unemployed former bank executive searches for groceries in an Illinois food pantry. A struggling fisherman navigates Louisiana wetlands devastated by hurricanes and oil spills. A Charlotte man washes dishes to scrape together enough money to move out of a homeless shelter.

These are some of the characters you’ll meet in The Line, a new documentary exploring the changing faces of poverty in America. Linda Midgett, a local filmmaker whose background includes series work for the History channel and Investigation Discovery, produced and directed the film at the request of Sojourners, a Christian social-justice organization based in Washington, D.C.

“What I hope happens is that it changes stereotypes of other people in poverty, so [people] are better able to view them through a more compassionate and human lens,” Midgett says.

The forty-five minute documentary, which premiered in D.C. in October, examines various factors—from corporate layoffs to a cycle of despair in inner cities—that lead people to live at, near, or below the federal poverty line of $23,050 for a family of four. Midgett says the message is not meant be political but rather asks the question, “Can you view people in poverty as human?”