12 Stories, 12 Interpretations of Home
What does home mean to you? For many, it’s where we grew up and played as children. For others, it’s where we’re laying down roots for the future with our new families. And for some, it’s not a physical place at all, but wherever your people—or dragons—are. Topic has an eclectic range of titles that prove homes come in all shapes and sizes, from communities that make you feel like you belong to the dreadful limbo that it can often be. Some will make you feel homesick and some will remind you why you moved across the country, but all of these stories are highly relatable. Ready to stream? Sit back, relax, and, well, make yourself at home.
While most people think of home as a place of creature comforts, for Will and Tom, home is being free. The father and daughter live in the Oregon wilderness, surviving off the land, unbothered and unconstrained by the rules of society. But that all changes when they’re caught by law enforcement and forced to integrate into the very society they’re trying to be free of. One has an easier time adapting than the other, and soon they’re on their way back to the wild. For all of Tom’s life, home has been wherever her father is, but his stubborn desire to live freely makes her start questioning what she really wants.
Marie and Greg were a happily married couple with three beautiful kids. But that’s hardly their happy ending. One day Marie walks out on them, seemingly for no reason, leaving Greg to pick up the pieces. The three-episode series starts 11 months after Marie’s exit and follows Greg’s reentry into the dating scene, how he’s coping with being a single father, and the residual grief that he and the kids are still feeling. Before you jump to condemn Marie, keep in mind one question: what would make a woman abandon her own children? Your assumptions will go out the window as the story unfolds. Sometimes it’s just a little bit impossible to come home.
In this docuseries, various residents of different communities around the US are asked an unexpectedly thought-provoking question: if you could save one thing from a house fire, what would it be? Many of the items they choose seem completely mundane to us, but for them they’re filled with a lifetime of memories and carry immeasurable significance. In the Latinx community of Woodburn, a resident chooses a graduation plaque that tells his immigration story. In Dignity Village and Kenton Women’s Village, the formerly homeless residents have a profound perspective on material possessions. Viewers are left wondering what they would save if they could only have one item to represent home.
Going back to your suburban hometown might be mundane and predictable, but going back at the same time as all your quirky siblings is anything but. And how about when they’re all haunted by a painful past that threatens to tear them apart? Told from the individual perspectives of six family members who reunite in Adelaide when their mother decides to sell their childhood house, the dramedy explores each one’s relationship with the city, which brother Eli calls a “sh*thole” as an unseen chorus soothingly harmonizes, “sh******thole.” Welcome home.
Most people say they love their hometowns, but how many would actually fight for it? In this documentary, a filmmaker, an activist, an urban farmer, and a politician all contribute in their own ways to try and bring life back to their hometown of Braddock, PA. Braddock was once a booming steel town at the epicenter of the industrial revolution, but after the decline of the steel industry, it’s become more of a ghost town. Though business is now gone, the residents, who are predominantly Black, are left with the long-term health effects from years of heavy pollution. Even so, they’re not willing to give up on their town. Through activism, local politics, and changing the landscape, these four residents are fighting to make Braddock a better home for its community.
Sometimes you must fight to keep your place at home, even if it’s not your house or your family. "The Maid" follows Raquel, who’s worked as a maid for a wealthy family in Chile for 23 years. When the family matriarch hires new help, Raquel feels her comfortable position in the household being threatened and goes to extreme measures to thwart her new assistant. But the new girl isn’t her only problem. After two decades, Raquel is practically part of the family, so much so that she has her own deep-seated tensions with one member in particular. For some families, home is where the fighting is.
When Amy’s (Melanie Lynskey) husband leaves her, she moves back home with her parents in suburban Connecticut. But being back home and untethered by marriage makes Amy revert back to a less adult lifestyle and she gets stuck in a sort of limbo between her old life and her new chapter. Along the way, she has a secret teenage-like affair with 19-year-old Jeremy (Christopher Abbott), who teaches her some surprisingly grown-up life lessons. "Hello I Must Be Going" proves that if home can prepare you for life once, it can do it again.
After the death of her mother, 6-year-old Frida moves from Barcelona to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousin in the Spanish countryside. The tender coming-of-age story, based on director Carla Simón’s own life, is a thoughtful rumination on how a sudden life change can impact a child. If home is an anchor, does losing yours at such a young age fill you with an aimlessness that will define you forever? Or can the joys and curiosities of a new home recenter you and allow you to grow even stronger roots?
If you’re proud of your way of life, would you want the world to see it or should it remain sacred? In "The Wonders," a family of beekeepers in the Italian countryside are struggling to make ends meet, but a TV show—hosted by an opulently dressed Monica Belluci—takes interest in them because they represent the traditions of ancient Etruscan culture. The patriarch wants nothing to do with the production, but eldest daughter Gelsomina is curious to take part in something bigger than her own life. The film beautifully touches on the adolescent experience of finding your place in the world outside of home.
Every year, thousands of children go missing or are abandoned in Karachi, Pakistan. "These Birds Walk" examines the issue by meeting a few of the people most impacted by it, including local humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi, who runs an organization that helps runaways, an ambulance driver who helps with the organization, and Omar, a Pathan boy who fled his home in Taliban country. Through their stories, viewers get an intimate look into a very complex issue that sees kids missing their families but scared of going home. Though it’s a heart-wrenching subject, filmmakers Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq were able to create a visually poetic documentary that leaves you feeling inspired and hopeful.
Four very different communities prove that home is where your people are. At Sally’s VIP Salon, customers don’t just come in for the excellent braids, they come in to learn about themselves. In the voguing community, the House of Old Navy provides MC Precious Ebony and hundreds of other voguers the chance to be themselves while flaunting their dance skills. At the Staten Island Club For the Deaf, the last remaining deaf club in New York City, Signing Bingo is a way for the hearing impaired to get together and keep their community alive. For a group of Dungeons and Dragons players, their home is in the Land of Anddyfdyr, a place that offers them so much more adventure than the real world.
In Palestine, Arabian horses are a powerful symbol of culture, and raising them is an artform that brings great pride. But for one family of horse breeders living in the West Bank, it’s not always an easy task when there are checkpoints between you and the training facilities. "Stallions of Palestine" follows Abdel Naser and his family as they navigate their country’s conflicts in order to raise and care for these majestic, but delicate animals. The story not only examines the larger political context but also the unique relationship that Palestinian breeders have with their horses. To them, they’re like family.