TWO women with strong Cork connections, one an actor who has overcome homelessness and addiction, the other a Douglas-born freelance filmmaker, have launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance a short film about female homelessness in Ireland.
‘This Promise’ is the title of a planned short film depicting life as a homeless mother on the streets of Dublin, and the project is co-written by Elaine Ryan, a writer and actor who was previously homeless, and Naoimh Ní Luanaigh, a writer and filmmaker from Douglas.
The film, which is produced by James Gaffney, will tell the story of Cheryl, a woman living in emergency accommodation with her young daughter, who comes to realise, reluctantly, that this is not a suitable environment for a child and lets her ex-partner take custody of her daughter.
Cheryl forms a friendship with another homeless woman, Maria (played by Jasmine Oschun), and that keeps both women going.
Cheryl is played by Elaine Ryan, who studied screen acting at Bow Street Academy in Dublin and who repeatedly experienced homelessness.
“Despite a huge increase in the number of women experiencing homelessness in Ireland in recent years — one of the highest numbers in Europe — female homelessness remains largely hidden from view and remote from public awareness,” Ms Ryan said.
“People often don’t realise that many homeless women are also mothers trying to care for their children in hugely challenging circumstances, and that’s the story we want to tell.”
Naoimh Ní Luanaigh, a Cork-born freelance filmmaker, had an outline of a film about a homeless woman and she wanted the film to feature someone who had experienced homelessness.
She contacted Daisyhouse, a Dublin-based organisation that helps women who are transitioning out of homelessness, and they put her in touch with Elaine Ryan.
“The second I met Elaine, I knew she would be perfect to star as the lead character in ‘This Promise’,” said Ms Ní Luanaigh.
“As we started discussing Cheryl and her life, Elaine was bringing lots of insights and ideas to the table, and her first-hand experience of having been homeless herself and working in homeless services in Dublin really shaped the narrative of the film.”
Ms Ryan, who has family in Cork, told The Echo that while she had experienced homelessness as a result of addiction, ‘This Promise’ is not autobiographical, and she and Ms Ní Luanaigh had wanted to tell a broader story that remained true to life. “There is a lot of stigma and shame that comes with being homeless, especially for women,” Ms Ryan said. “A home feels like the most normal thing in the world to most, but when you don’t have one it seems like the most difficult thing in the world to get.”
Ms Ryan said that nobody can know the full story behind any woman who becomes homeless, but she stressed that homelessness need not be a dead end. “I was lucky to receive the support and encouragement that I needed to get back on track.
“What we want to achieve with the film is to offer an honest portrayal of the turmoil of being a homeless mother, but, equally, we want to tell an intimate story of resilience and hope,” she said.
The production team behind ‘The Promise’ is hoping to raise €18,000, which would cover all costs, from pre-production to international release. We are currently experiencing record levels of family homelessness in Ireland, many of which are lone-parent families headed by women,” Ms Ní Luanaigh said.
“Women and children who find themselves in this position are especially vulnerable, so this is an extremely pressing issue and one which is close to our hearts.
“We are appealing to individuals and organisations who share our deep concern for the growing number of homeless women in Ireland to help us tell the human story behind the statistics by donating to this film.”
Anyone wishing to find out more about ‘This Promise’, or wishing to donate to the film, can do so via the film’s website: thispromisefilm.com.