Cincinnati stars as itself in Emilio Estevez's "the public"

By Betsy Ross, Contributing Writer

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As the Greater Cincinnati film industry continues to grow, we've seen this area play diverse neighborhoods for movies: 1950s New York, Compton in the 1990s, and more. In the latest Emilio Estevez movie made in Cincinnati, the Queen City plays itself.

"the public" (yes, it is lower case) looks at the issue that libraries deal with across the country-managing the homeless population as patrons of the library. In the movie, Cincinnati is facing its coldest winter in years and the shelters are full. The homeless want to use the downtown library branch as a shelter from the killer cold.

Estevez, who also wrote and stars in the film, is an overworked, underpaid library administrator who is caught between the library's "no overnight" policy and the humanitarian need for shelter.

"the public" had its world premiere Wednesday night at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where a packed theater cheered Estevez and the cast for its sensitive portrayal of ripped-from-the-headlines issues.

The movie also stars Alec Baldwin as a police officer whose son also is living on the streets, and Christian Slater as an overly-ambitious mayoral candidate looking to get the most political mileage from the crisis.

Cincinnatians will chuckle at the insider references to Indian Hill, Mt. Adams and more, but the underlying message is a serious one; dealing with homelessness with compassion.

As Estevez said at the world premiere, referencing the recent Santa Barbara fires and Montecito mudslides, "We are all one fire or one mudslide away from being homeless."

"the public" brings that message home for all of us.

Alex ReillySCENE