After a five-year hiatus, the Village Storytelling Festival returns to discuss reconnection and transformation in a number of performances starting Tuesday.
Organized by the Village Storytelling Centre, the festival will focus on the world in motion and the importance of coming together through stories.
The Glasgow-based Village Storytelling Center frequently works with charities to encourage expression, comfort, healing and the ability to tell stories.
One project that does just that at the festival is ‘(Because) We Are All Worth It Too’, an original performance film that shines a light on female homelessness in Scotland.
The film, which is mainly set in Glasgow, focuses on four fictional characters created by a group of around six homeless women who contributed parts of their own stories and those of other women.
The women star in the film – presented in a documentary style – with the women introducing who they are and who their characters are.
Jodie, a woman affected by homelessness since the age of 22 and one of the stars, came up with the idea for the film.
“It started with a conversation, much like the one we’re having right now,” said Jodie, now 27, of a Simon Community women’s service in Glasgow. “I’ve lived part of my character’s life: I’m a drug addict, I’m homeless, and I’ve been through the criminal justice system, so there’s a lot in the movie that I identify with.”
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Jodie said the whole process was moving as she recounted “very personal memories”, from cooking with loved ones to domestic violence.
Speaking about the film, Jodie said: “It affected everyone involved and you have ups and downs, but that’s what life is and that real life is what we portray in the film.”
The film hopes to eradicate the prejudices associated with being a woman and being homeless.
“Women have been described as ‘junkies’, I hate that word,” Jodie said. “But that’s what we call ourselves in the real world. We want to put an end to all that and break down the prejudice attached to a homeless woman who has her own voice and experience. What this film presents and shows, c is that we are all human and we all matter.
“It gave women a voice and a platform to be heard. As a homeless woman, it really takes its toll because women are normally portrayed in traditional roles, so when we come out of that, we feel like outsiders.
“I have been judged on my appearance since I was very young and have been bullied a lot throughout my school life and as an adult for my appearance and my disability as I have autism.”
Women affected by homelessness were keen to have their stories heard in a society that can often make them feel “invisible.”
The reason for the title is based on the L’Oréal advertising campaign “Because you are worth it” with the addition of “too much” to demonstrate that homeless women should not be excluded.
“It’s negative, self-negative talk that dehumanizes us,” Jodie said. “We are not a statistic. We have feelings, drive, inspiration and goals, but not everyone achieves them all at once because we are all unique and being unique drives us forward. “
Since October, Lauren Bianchi, the film’s main creative contribution, has worked with homeless charity The Simon Community and their four women’s services in Glasgow to focus on the “untold stories” of female homelessness.
The women wanted to focus on society’s “obsession” with looks, as women are treated “entirely differently” based on their looks, Lauren said.
“The film is very honest and speaks to the experience of women in a sometimes lighthearted and sometimes sad tone,” Lauren said. “There’s a lot of stigma around homelessness and all we see is the person on the street, but people don’t stop to think about the stories behind it.”
The characters talk about how they became homeless and their dreams and aspirations for the future.
Jodie, who aspires to be a support worker, said if she was able to change some people’s minds, she would be happy.
“As my mantra says, I move little hills to create mountains because when you reach the top of my mountain, I want to help others move their little hills to create their mountains,” she said.
Lauren added, “I think in society we don’t really think about women’s experiences of homelessness. When we think of someone who is homeless, we often think of a man begging on a street corner, and the experience of women is completely different.
“Women are still rough and sleeping rough as well, but how they got there is often very different and what they need from the service is really different and can often be overlooked.”
Speaking about the film, Emma Collins, Creative Producer of the Village Storytelling Festival said: “The Village wants to shine a light on these stories so that positive change can happen in society.
“If we don’t understand the female perspective of homelessness, we can’t try to improve or provide the services women really need and the stigma persists.”
Jodie believes the film will “open a lot of eyes” to women who have been abused all their lives and who deserve respect.
“We’ve had it all to overcome, but we’re the strongest people on the planet,” Jodie said. “It’s hard to see it on my own, but I see it in other people in the same position as me.
The film will be screened at the Center for Contemporary Arts cinema in Glasgow on Friday at 6 p.m.