RIVERVIEW – Fifty-six-year-old Eileen Newman, daughter of Milton and Phyllis Newman of Riverview, has a master’s degree from Indiana University, a year of doctoral credits and worked as a business analyst before becoming a documentary filmmaker.
Health issues forced her out of the corporate world, and after spending a lot on unsuccessful traditional and alternative medical care, she became homeless three years ago.
She taught college courses as an adjunct professor in Oregon, which she calls home, until budgets were cut. She applied for food stamps. She now lives frugally off tips from balloon twisting at farmer’s markets and from occasional sales of her photographs and films.
She created a documentary about her situation called “is this my home?” which recently was accepted into the 2014 American Documentary Film Festival, a screening of more than 100 movies from around the world. The five-day festival will take place in March in Palm Springs, Calif.
“is this my home?” describes challenges Newman faces: having to sell prized possessions, such as her trumpet and art supplies, living in her 19-year-old car in freezing weather and seeking employment in towns with ordinances against sleeping in cars.
She drove to the greater Brandon area to spend this winter with family and friends.
Newman, as an independent documentary filmmaker, has no funding source. She is looking for sponsors to help her get to the film festival, where she hopes to meet people and find a way to earn a living making meaningful films.
“A woman told me that ‘is this my home?’ changed her perception when she sees someone homeless,” said Newman. “What I do matters. You can’t give up your mission in life. I can’t say, ‘OK, let’s give this up; I’m going to walk back into corporate America.’ Boy would it be nice to have my own home again, but what I do makes a difference to people.”