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The Filmmakers

Laura Vazquez, an accomplished documentary filmmaker, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. She has taught at NIU since completing her Ph.D. at Northwestern University in Radio/TV/Film in 2000. Vazquez has worked on several projects in conjunction with HEAR US and other organizations focusing on homelessness including:

  • My Own Four Walls (2007), winner of the '07 NAECHY Outstanding Media Award
  • FAFSA FIX (2007) featuring homeless youths' efforts to gain access to college
  • On Their Own (2010), a training film explaining education rights for homeless youth

Vazquez received two grants from NIU to work on the documentary "On the edge" during her sabbatical in the Spring/Summer 2008. Since then she collaborated with Andrew McCormick and Diane Nilan to complete editing the documentary.

In addition to directing "On the edge", Vazquez's other accomplishments include:

  • Mother Jones: America's Most Dangerous Woman (Documentary, 2007) with Rosemary Feuer: Official Selection of the 2007 Independent Filmmaker's Festival and 1st Place Documentary, Geneva, IL Festival of the Arts (2007)
  • Lockout 484 (Documentary, 2005) Screened at the 5th Annual Reel Work May Day Labor Festival, Santa Cruz, CA.

Diane Nilan, founder and president of HEAR US Inc. has over 25 years experience working with impoverished and homeless families including directing the shelter at Hesed House in Aurora for 13 years. In 2005, Nilan formed a national non-profit organization, HEAR US Inc., to call attention to the hidden issue of homeless families and youth. Her initial documentary project My Own Four Walls united her with Vazquez's documentary expertise. In addition to producing ON THE EDGE, Nilan's work includes:

Nilan, in her RV/office known as "Tillie" continues her cross country journeys to non-urban communities to chronicle poverty and homelessness, particularly for invisible families and teens, conducting trainings, developing grass-roots advocacy support and filming for future projects.

Contact Information:
To learn more about the film, contact Laura Vazquez: 815-753-7132 or
To arrange for a screening, contact Diane Nilan at 630-225-5012 or

Follow this link to hear the Director discuss how poverty affects the children

Laura and Ayden

Laura and Ayden
Milton, Florida

Laura and Diane

The filmmakers in Deming, New Mexico

Laura and Angela

Laura and Angela
Opelousas, Louisiana