Gimme Shelter is one of the most inspiring films of the season. It's based on a true story and centers on Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) a young, pregnant teen that leaves home to escape her abusive mother June (Rosario Dawson). After wandering homeless and getting into a car accident, Apple is hospitalized. It's there that she meets a priest, Frank (James Earl Jones), who leads her to a unique shelter for expecting mothers. Soon Apple's life begins to change.
I had a moment to speak with Kathy DiFiore, whose life influenced the movie. After leaving her husband, Fiore wandered homeless. It was God that gave her the strength to find a job and a place to live. Once she had her feet on the ground, she began to bring expecting mothers into her own home. Now Several Sources Shelters is growing by the day and has changed many lives.
We discussed how writer and director Rob Krauss used her incredible story to develop the movie. DiFiore explains her passion for the film's message and how God has led herself and others out of hard times.
TGH: This film is inspired by your own life. How did you meet Ron Krauss?
D: About four years ago it turned out he had heard about me. He called up and he said, 'Can I stop by?' His reaction was one of total disbelief. While it's called a shelter, it really has the feeling of a home and the babies were fascinating to him. He called it 'sacred ground.' The girls trusted him and liked him. He approached me about doing a possible documentary or film. I heard a little voice inside my head say trust him. I wondered if it was the Holy Spirit. The two of us talked it out-let's focus on the need and the girls and maybe some good will come of it.
TGH: Were you hesitant about telling this story to Hollywood?
D: Absolutely. I'm still hesitant even though it's out there and it's beautiful. I don't know, I just leave it to God and pray for the best. We have a how to open a shelter online! [Check out the link here!]
TGH: Was the character of Apple inspired by a certain woman you helped?
D: The character is a combination of two of our mothers. Ron had spent hours and hours with different women. Four years ago this time, Darilisha came to us. Ron was standing outside and he was waiting for me. He invites her into the shelter. I walk in and go Ron, what is she doing here? Next thing I know she's pregnant. She needs a place to stay and there is this Hollywood guy! I let Ron tell her instead of me that there was one open bed and she could have it. She hugged him so hard he fell over almost! He was shocked and that was the moment he knew he had to do a screenplay.
TGH: In your own life, when did you find God?
D: For me, my family; when I was a child. My grandmother raised me very deeply in the Catholic faith. She was a woman of deep, deep faith. For me that was easy. God came to me every day and I tried to be good and speak to him. My difficulty was that I picked the wrong guy to marry. When I had to leave him, I took God with me. My life came back together again. When I got a job and was able to buy a house, I turned it into a shelter. 1981.
TGH: Are there specific moments where you saw God working in your life, getting you through those hard times?
D: I was fined 10 thousand dollars by New Jersey for running a license boarding house. I didn't know I was breaking any state laws. After a 15 months battle, I received a letter from the Governor saying he was going to veto the legislation. The next thing I know I saw Mother Theresa on the news. I heard a little voice saying contact Mother Theresa. Within four phone calls we had her on the phone. Eventually she wrote the governor I beg you not to veto this legislation. She is a very special lady.
TGH: Having a shelter and dealing with the women you do, how do you balance bringing them towards Christ without being pushy about it? Apple is hesitant at first to those who encourage her towards faith.
D: You really just work with what you get. You work with what God gives you. You let the soul of the person just be. If they're hurt or nasty or upset, just listen. They know that you care, and then they get it all out and then you just pray with them and just let them know that God loves them. I have never heard anyone turn away from saying a prayer for them. It works and it's true. I've been doing this for many years. People that have rejected God- you'd be amazed. We've got story after story of women who open up their heart and mind to the Holy Spirit. It's God in action and he's going to help them because they've opened up their heart.
TGH: Has the film helped your organizations gain steam?
D: Anybody attending this movie, regardless of age, male or female, they will come away with something that's a life changer. Even Rosario said to me, if June had seen you and been at your shelters and was given the break that Apple's given, she wouldn't have become the women she did. Break the cycle.
TGH: What's the most important message you hope audiences will take away from the movie?
D: I feel audiences will walk away with the sense that peace in their lives and God in their lives is a way of solving problems. We sometimes make the struggle more complicated than we have to. I have a saying, 'Walk with God every hour of the day. Invite him to walk with you every hour of the day.' When you do that, you find your problems diminish. That's what the movie is because that's what Apple found when nobody cared.