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Even In Darkness: The San Francisco Night Ministry

The Tenderloin Museum presents its debut screening of Even In Darkness (2016), a new documentary by James Hosking (Beautiful By Night) that follows the city’s Night Minister, Rev. Lyle Beckman, as he walks the streets of the Tenderloin providing emotional support at a time when many need it the most: 10PM-4AM. The film will be screened alongside Shepherd of the Streets (1966), a KRON-TV Assignment Four report that offers a rare look at the pioneering work of San Francisco’s first Night Minister, Rev. Donald E. Stuart. James Hosking will be present for a panel discussion along with Rev. Beckman, former Night Minister Rev. Don Fox, and other community leaders.

Made 50 years apart, these documentaries profile the vital work and legacy of the San Francisco Night Ministry through intimate portraits of the Tenderloin in its darkest hours. Founded in 1964, the Night Ministry provides crisis intervention, counseling, and face-to-face conversations from 10PM to 4AM, the time when crises are most acute and social services scarce. It’s a ministry of presence that measures its activity in number of meaningful conversations and prides itself on never having missed a night vigil since its inception. The Night Minister’s role is literally to walk the streets, be a physical lifeline for the community, and listen with sincerity and compassion. Lyle Beckman is only the fourth man to hold the title, and his encounters with addicts, sex workers, and the homeless illustrate his aim to comfort rather than convert. Even In Darkness follows Beckman on his nightly rounds and explores questions of faith, the changing face of a city, and the power of empathy.

Co-produced with the Tenderloin Museum, Even In Darkness received funding from the Neighborhood Arts Collaborative/San Francisco Grants for the Arts. The film premiered at the 20th Annual United Nations Associations Film Festival in October of this year.  Hosking is a long-time collaborator of the Museum, and his 2015 film about three drag performers at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, Beautiful By Night, sold out screenings at both the Tenderloin Museum and San Francisco’s Roxie Theater.