Is Gimme Shelter a True Story?

‘Gimme Shelter’, directed by Ronald Krauss, is a poignant tale of a teenage girl named Abigail “Apple” Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) who struggles with a life that has only brought her misery. Her mother (Rosario Dawson) is an abusive drug addict who satiates herself with Apple’s foster care provisions, and her father (Brendan Fraser) is perpetually absent. To find a solution to her long-drawn frustrations, Apple decides to go to her father, who eventually abandons her on discovering that she’s pregnant.

With nothing but sorrow to bear, Apple gets into an accident and later encounters a community for pregnant teenagers that turns out to be her safe haven. Because of the realistic themes and emotional richness present in the movie, we can’t help but contemplate whether it is based on a real-life account. Is ‘Gimme Shelter’ a true story? Let’s find out.

Is Gimme Shelter Based on a True Story?

Yes, ‘Gimme Shelter’ is based on a true story. It delineates the real-life ideas of Kathy DiFiore and their actualization in the form of Christian shelters that housed pregnant teenagers. DiFiore’s story started after her separation from her husband that deemed her helpless. But her faith in God on having been raised as a Catholic brought her strength, and she started performing daily acts of kindness, which gradually took shape into a bigger idea.

Soon, DiFiore became actively involved in protecting unwed pregnant women who needed support. DiFiore eventually set up a group of shelters for such women and created a network of resources that would sustain these houses. Her community came to be known as the Several Sources Shelters situated in Ramsey, New Jersey.

How was Kathy DiFiore Noticed?

Ronald Krauss, the director, heard about the organization from someone and realized that it was located near his brother’s place in New Jersey. Sometime in 2009, he intriguingly decided to see the community during which he encountered DiFiore. Krauss continued to visit the shelter very frequently and eventually ended up living there for more than a year. He also decided to use a camera and interview the residents.

Initially, it was entirely research-based, but on one occasion, a homeless girl knocked on their door asking for help. She reportedly hailed from an abusive background and had walked 30 miles to seek shelter. Under the impression that she was a resident, Krauss took her in, at which she threw her arms around him in a tight embrace. This moved the filmmaker, and he was inspired to record their experiences in a movie. He started to work harder, and likewise, penned down the screenplay during his stay within the walls of the community.

How Accurate is the Movie?

‘Gimme Shelter’ movie is quite accurate in terms of the themes explored. DiFiore believed that Krauss’ work amounted to more than just a plot based on a true story. He did a terrific job at grasping the emotions and psyche behind the stories of the women, which in turn, transformed into something larger than life itself. The community is self-sufficient, and the residents are very much in love with the work they do.

Krauss’ projection of these insights into cinema is something that captured the lives of these women, very profoundly and realistically. The character of Apple is based on two girls in the shelter. Before the incident that pushed him to create a movie, Krauss already had almost 40 hours of footage based on interviews and general shots. The themes highlighted in the movie are roughly taken from these accounts.

The director even got four girls from the shelter to act in the film, which was shot in the real residency. Based on his accounts that were included in the movie, the razor blade scene was the most difficult one. Ron was there to witness it in the parking lot when the shocking event unfolded. The girl (the real-life equivalent of Apple) was visited by her mother who attacked her with the blade and tore at her. When the police intervened, she couldn’t give her mother away to the cops.

Read More: Best Movies Based on Real-Life Scandals