CSUN Psychology Professor Honored for Work on Documentary on Homelessness
California State University, Northridge’s psychology professor Luciana Lagana received the Best Political Statement award at the Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival, as well as the Phoenix Body of Work award at the 2018 Action on Film International Film Festival, for writing, directing and producing the documentary “Off the Streets for Good.”
Lagana wrote “Off the Streets for Good” to highlight four previously homeless adults who changed their lifestyles. The film also features two experts who provide help for the homeless in the non-profit community.
“[My] motivation for the homeless film came years ago,” Lagana said. “A student of mine approached me after class in the evening and told me he was homeless and needed to sleep in a safe space. I was shocked that my own student was homeless. This is going on nationally; it’s not just here. When I saw my good student in a difficult position like that, I said I needed to do something about it.”
Lagana said she included Wade Trimmer, former executive director of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, and founder and chairman of Giving Spirit Tom Bagamane in her movie because their work offers community contributions that can improve the lives of homeless people by providing shelter, food, rehabilitation and job opportunities.
San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, located near the CSUN campus, provides shelter for families for up to 10 months.
“[Wade Trimmer] is such an advocate for the homeless,” Lagana said.
She utilized the rescue mission to understand homelessness prior to making the film.
In addition, Lagana used the making of the film to engage her graduate and undergraduate students in anti-bias research. A few students will soon accompany Lagana to research conferences to present the findings of this homelessness-focused research.
The National Institute of Health (NIH), a research agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services currently provides research funding for Lagana through grants. NIH further provides funding for many of Lagana’s research students through CSUN’s Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity; Promoting Opportunities for Diversity in Education and Research (BUILD PODER) program and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement.
Luciana plans to utilize research results from her three most current films, “LGBT United”, “Understanding Pain in Older Age” and “Off the Streets for Good” to create two more films that encapsulate disparate challenges faced by underserved overlapping communities. The study on “Off the Streets for Good” evaluated attitudes towards the poor and the homeless in hope of improving empathy and reduce bias against these underserved individuals.
The fourth film will incorporate research results from previous films involving ageism, LGBTQ and homelessness while the fifth film will focus on physical disability.
Lagana has won over 25 combined awards, including Best Political Statement for “LGBT United”, Best Documentary for “Understanding Pain in Older Age” and the Award of Merit for “Aging and Falling”.