News coverage offers steady, lurid stories of violence, gangs and drugs in public housing. But to many Americans, public housing and urban poverty are “issues” that remain out of sight and out of mind.

In HEARD, these issues take on human faces. We get to know current and former residents of the projects and hear them tell their own compelling stories. We see how they’re surviving and thriving in spite of… and often because of the challenges they've had to overcome.

Belltower Pictures developed and produced the film with major funding provided by VPM. HEARD is distributed nationally by American Public Television.

HEARD was awarded the Emmy® for outstanding documentary in the historical/cultural category in 2021 by the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

HEARD Bonus Features

T. J. Thompson talks about the prevalence of violence in public housing projects... and why residents don't respond favorably to the police.

In public housing communities, where violence is a daily reality, there's pressure to not ask for help and not admit fear. Richmond radio personality Clovia Lawrence says people from outside the community often come in to help, but don't recognize that the greatest need of residents is genuine love.

Why do people deal drugs? For Von Johnson and his friends, dealing drugs was a way to survive, make friends and lift themselves out of poverty. They didn't realize the long-term impact at the time. But now, Von is mentoring young boys and letting them know there’s another way.

The news has been sharing stories of violence, gangs and drugs in America’s urban housing for decades, but how do residents survive and thrive? HEARD shares the inspiring human stories within the issues.

How can a story change your perspective? Cotina Brake grew up in public housing, but she wants you to know there is so much more to the community than what you hear on the evening news.

A brief clip of the September 27, 2020 premiere of the documentary HEARD, for the storytellers who appeared in the film.