PROVIDENCE — Joseph Campo hopes the Rhode Islanders who come out next week to see his latest film have their hearts opened to see the poor in a new light.
“Hopefully the film is a call to action in some way, that their hearts will be touched, that they will see Christ in the poor and perhaps be motivated to love them in a different way,” said Campo, the co-founder and producer of Grassroots Films.
On Nov. 10, at 3 p.m., Campo will be screening his Brooklyn-based studio’s latest film, “Outcasts,” at the McVinney Auditorium. There will also be a Westerly screening of “Outcasts” on Sunday, Nov. 18, at noon, St. Clare Church Hall, 4 Saint Clare Way, Westerly. Questions and answers will follow the film.
Winner of several film awards and hailed by critics, “Outcasts” takes the viewer to experience first-hand the lives of the poor and those on society’s margins in five different countries, moving from New York City to Ireland, England, Nicaragua and Honduras.
The viewers follow the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal as they minister to people struggling with crippling poverty, heroin addiction, and caught in the vicious cycle of prostitution and prison while being subject to dangerous and degrading living conditions.
“No matter where you go, poverty is something that’s still the same. People are pretty much the same. They’re struggling,” said Campo, who is also the executive director of the St. Francis House men’s shelter in Brooklyn, New York.
Campo will be present at the diocesan screening, and will be available for an answer-and-question session after the film with Father John Anthony, one of the Friars shown in the film.
“We do a couple of screenings a month. It’s been a huge success every place we’ve gone. I’m just grateful that this film is as well received as it’s been,” Campo said.
The Providence screening is being made possible by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, which donated $5,000 to sponsor the film.
Carolyn Belisle, managing director of community relations at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, told the Rhode Island Catholic that the agency is sponsoring “Outcasts” in part because it is “committed to helping all Rhode Islanders live their healthiest lives in the face of social environment and determinants that have tremendous impact on the health of individuals across our state.”
“This film provides viewers an opportunity to think about some of our society’s greatest challenges — things like poverty, substance use disorders, racism, and the lives impacted by these challenges,” Belisle said. “Sharing the stories of these individuals through this film helps us all think about the human condition and experience and how we can all play a role — small and large — in making people’s lives better.”
The Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island is partnering with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island to screen “Outcasts.” Andrea H. Krupp, the director of the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island, said the foundation has been working over a year to bring the film to Rhode Island.
“It’s going to be a wonderful event open to the public, free of charge,” Krupp said. “With this film, I hope people connect with the real-life reality of what people are struggling with, and that people carry their own burdens with them, whether we see them or not.
“We all have a little bit of that outcast in us,” Krupp said. “The film, I hope, will make us think about how we can reach out to other people, whether it is the obvious homeless person on the street, the people we can reach out to at Christmas or maybe just the person we run into coincidentally and give them a smile and look them in the eye.”
Since 2006, Grassroots Films has produced several feature-length documentaries and short movies from a Catholic perspective. The studio’s portfolio includes “Fishers of Men,” a short film about the priesthood, the documentary “The Human Experience” and “God in the Streets of New York City.”
“Cinematically their films are powerful,” Krupp said. “They’re beautifully done, powerful films about real people and real situations.”
With the First Sunday of Advent approaching on Dec. 2, Krupp added that the timing of the “Outcasts” screening was perfect, given the precarious situation that the Holy Family found itself in more than 2,000 years ago.
“We can look back at Mary and Joseph, and see how they were outcasts in their own time,” Krupp said. “They didn’t have a lot of money. They didn’t have a lot of connections. They were pregnant, in need of a place to stay and they were turned away.”
While some viewers may not suffer to the degree that they will see the individuals profiled in “Outcasts,” Campo noted that everyone suffers in some way, and said he hopes the film will move people to be more kind and sensitive to the people they encounter through life.
“I just believe also that this is a work of God,” Campo said. “We’re just trying to do the best we possibly can.”
Due to the intense and raw nature of the film’s content, Krupp said “Outcasts” is appropriate only for mature audiences, for high school juniors and older. For more information, including how to register for the screening, visit https://www.mcvinneyauditorium.com or call the McVinney Auditorium Box Office at 401-278-4588. For information on the Westerly screening, please contact Bethany Kennedy at or call (401) 742-5577.