The Siege of Bóthar Anam.

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Marcus Maher is a writer and director currently crowdfunding for a short film project that links the current housing crisis to his experiences squatting in Liverpool in the 1990s. Rashers Tierney finds out more.

The film is partially inspired by events in Liverpool in the mid-1990s. Can you fill us in on this? The city It sounds like you were right in the heart of some interesting scenes? Were you squatting?

I lived in Liverpool as a student, living in a squat bedsit with 7 men (all older than me at the time I was 21 mid 90’s) but these fellas inspired me, especially their militant resistance as they banded together to resist social cleansing (we lived in a Georgian house in Toxteth) 6 of them were from various parts of Ireland and living on housing benefit. They had nothing but each other and there was an amazing comarardarie between them all, I rented a room and watched as they fought day to day against the council who wanted them out.

What other projects have the team worked on? How long have you been working on developing this idea?

This idea came out of the housing crisis in Ireland as I’ve seen lives taken away, torn apart by austerity while the government does nothing. This will be our first film under my production company Triskellion Films and I’m proud to be doing something relevant and meaningful with regard to the current crisis.

Is there a didactic element to the film? Like do you see it having some sort of role as a popular education tool? I see you have an interview up with an architect Mel Reynolds about factors leading to the housing crisis.

My colleague interviewed Mel as he’s very close to the current situation, having contact with people like him gives us the nuts and bolts of the reality on the ground (other than the spin of the mainstream media) we are constantly looking for voices that can enable ‘our’ project to have more authenticity and bring in people who have been affected.

You said the idea has been brewing around awhile, why turn to crowdfunding now and how are you finding the whole process? Do you find “official” funding routes restrictive or closed?

Funding has been closed off to us, I’ve tried the state route but because of the subject matter and the content this will have to be self funded and crowd funding. It’s not ideal and as we stand, unfortunately this film will have to be self funded, but I know in my heart it will be film worthy and relevant. There is no back up plan, even if we have to delay it’s going to be made, I’m determined to do it. Have you connected in with anyone involved in resisting evictions here or any other housing activism? Have you found your story parallels any real experiences out there?

The story could be thousands of stories, I just transposed it to modern day, but nothings changed, the poorest in our society are still being treated like they don’t exist, they don’t have a voice, marginalised and cut adrift. This is how any neo-liberal economic system treats the least vulnerable in society, they are not rich so they don’t matter. We’ve tried to reach out to HSH and other housing organisations and if they want to interact with us then I’m very open in bringing them in to highlight this problem. Given Ireland’s kinda historical experience with fighting back against “the landlords” – I’m thinking Junior Cert history here, the Land League and the Three F’s etc – all of that, are you surprised resistance to NAMA’s sale of property to vulture funds, the homelessness crisis, the lack of social housing and skyrocketing rents hasn’t really kicked off more of a movement here? Any reason in particular for this?

I’m not surprised if I’m honest that we allowed an organisation like NAMA effectively portfolio the doomed properties as the crooks like Johnny Rogan walk around proud as punch, they are effectively one of the same. The problem is we have obsequious media that doesn’t give people the facts as they stand (rabble excluded) in cahoots with their mates at the government and private hedge fund groups, you’ll find they all know each other pretty well. In fact Michael Noonan proudly coined ‘skin in the game’ to the same crooks who are effectively bankrupt and debased in their business practices, but yet are allowed back to speculate and carry on, like 2008 never happened, I would say the government are unaware of these individuals but that’s like saying a rat is unaware of a refuse tip.

Tell us about the goat. Looks like he has a prime role in the whole thing?

The goat was actually a goat one of the tenants from Liverpool had, he lived with him in the flat. His name was John Donnolly from Cork (lovely fella) he’s probably passed away now, but that goat was everything to him, they left an indelible mark on my life and hopefully this film will be a homage to those men. If ye get the film made, what are you going to do with it?

When the film is completed then I’d like it to be shown in festivals with social outreach, maybe Dublin next year and beyond, it’ll be translated into Spanish and Portuguese as they have similar groups there fighting against the very nefarious organisations in their own country.

We have the Indiegogo page up if you follow the link. We know we won’t reach our target but any contribution will do to get this made.

Head over to their Crowdfunding page and give the crew a dig out.

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