‘The Public’ hits home

Movie about public libraries and homelessness stars Chicago’s Rhymefest

In the movie “The Public” an unusually bitter Arctic blast has made its way to downtown Cincinnati and the front doors of the public library where the action of the film takes place. At odds with library officials over how to handle the extreme weather event, some homeless patrons turn the building into a shelter for the night by staging an “Occupy” sit in. What be- gins as an act of civil disobedience becomes a stand-off with police and a rush-to-judgment from media continually speculating about what’s happening. This David versus Goliath story tackles some of our nation’s most challenging is- sues, homelessness, and mental illness and sets the drama inside one of the last bastions of democracy-in-action: Your public library.

Cincinnati librarians Stuart Goodson (Emilio Estevez) and Myra (Jena Malone) see their regular day shaken up when home- less patrons decide to take shelter in their library for the night. What starts as a peaceful sit-in quickly escalates into a face-off with the police and the media.

Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, the film introduces Chicago’s very own Hip hop artist, philanthropist, and politician Che “Rhymefest” Smith. Others in the cast include Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, Taylor Schilling, Christian Slater, Gabrielle Union, Jacob Var- gas, Michael K. Williams and Jeffrey Wright.

If you’re looking for fact-based data and information without spin, media manipulation or bias, you pay a visit to the public library. The “intersectionality” of the seemingly insurmountable issues of our time — climate change, homeless- ness, mental illness, drug addiction, racism, income inequality, the dismantling of our civil and constitutional rights, and class di- vision — all collide and connect in- side the walls of the public library. From small towns to urban cities around the world, the public library serves as an invaluable community social hub. The library is a place of refuge, of learning, of connecting to the arts, of imagination and curiosity, a gathering place for real social networking and cultural engagement. A place for moms to connect at children’s story time, a place to look for a job, apply for college and get your passport.

Emilio Estevez is no stranger to the library world. Thirty-three years after portraying one of five teens sentenced to Saturday detention in a school library in the 1985 teen classic, “The Breakfast Club,” Estevez steps behind the camera to write, direct and star in “The Public.” Later that same year, he went on to appear in “St. Elmo’s Fire” before starring in “That Was Then, This Is Now,” for which he also wrote the screenplay. In 1996, Estevez directed Martin Sheen (his dad) for the first time in the Vietnam drama “The War at Home,” which Emilio also starred in and produced. His other film credits include “Repo Man,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Stakeout,” “Young Guns” and “The Mighty Ducks” franchise movies.

Che “Rhymefest” Smith stars as Big George. As a world traveler, prolific writer, artist, com- munity organizer, and teacher Rhymefest has shattered many negative stereotypes in Hip-hop. His award-winning documentary “In My Father’s House” details a journey to redeem in his relation- ship with his estranged alcoholic father who’d been homeless for over 30 years. His work on Songs like Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” Common & John Legend’s “Glory” and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s “M3,” have garnered countless awards including multiple Grammy’s, a Critics Choice award, Golden Globe and an Oscar.

As a Dartmouth Montgomery Fellow, and co-founder/Creative Director of Art Of Culture, Rhymefest has expanded his artistic expression to acting as he co-stars in his first significant film, while maintaining a profound passion for teaching and passing his experiences to new generations of youth and artists. Smith lives by the example and the mantra that, “The Only True Power, Is The Power To Empower Others.”


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