"Tucked away on a dead-end street in Adams Morgan, Joseph’s House is a place of rest and end-of-life care for homeless men and women with terminal AIDS and cancer. In his first full-length documentary, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Lucian Perkins turns his attention to the volunteers, the majority of whom are college students and recent graduates in their early twenties, who learn to care for the dying residents over the course of a year. One young woman, Cameron, enters Joseph’s House unsure of what she wants to do with her life, but she learns to trust and love herself from the residents for whom she cares. Brittney, a volunteer certain she wants to work with HIV positive individuals, finds her faith being tested by stubborn residents who struggle to accept their fates. The interactions between the volunteers and the residents provide the film’s narrative arc, but Perkins’ subtle cinematography is what makes the film so memorable. He captures their deaths, at times focusing on the open mouths and eyes of the recently departed, with dignity. It doesn’t feel exploitative or cheap. Rather, it tells a necessary story about how kindness and compassion benefit the dying and those who care for them." —Caroline Jones


"People say that life is a journey but so is death. Lucian Perkins’s documentary The Messengers, takes you on an emotional journey of your own while witnessing the bonds forged between the those who come to DC’s Joseph’s House, a hospice for homeless individuals dying of AIDS and the young volunteers who take care of them... I was moved by the cinematography of the film and the connections you’re able to make with the residents of the home in just a few short minutes. Throughout the film you witness the final moments of people as they literally take their last breath."—Sydney Mahan


“In this moving and thoughtful documentary, Perkins tells the stories of the patients and staff at Joseph’s House, a welcoming hospice for HIV/AIDS patients. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the Washington Post, this is Perkins’ first full-length documentary.”—Brian T Carney


“While I was awash in worries in my own little world. It was so healing to get to witness the work of those healers, and those precious souls on the brink of their own mortality. Thank you so much for making something that pulled us out of ourselves ... and towards the care for and love of humanity. And towards the eternal things...”

“Joseph's House was beautiful! The folks on either side of me were crying their eyes out, and I was choked up, too. This really will speak to people coming from so many different places.”

“Your documentary yesterday was fabulous, engaging, painful, mesmerizing and a thousand other words too.”

“I loved the editing and inclusion of so many fleeting magic moments of thoughtful detail. It immediately established the mood of the house from the very first frame. The heartbreaking character portrayals of the residents - the downcast, alone and forgotten - and their inevitable decline into the arms of death (in this case loving, caring arms) were the most visceral, moving episodes an audience could experience.”

“Just wanted you to know we were really moved by your film. We spent almost the entire dinner debating it. It brings up a lot of searching questions – racism, health care, poverty, fairness and much more – about American society.”

“In your film we were able to visibly see into the depth of people's souls - in sorrow, in grief, through joy and peppered always with a great love. You caught all of those things with your camera.”

“It is my prayer that thousands of people will see this film and it will change their life--in one way or another.” 

The Messengers

The Messengers, a film by Lucian Perkins: Dying residents at a hospice for the homeless mentor and transform two young volunteers.
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