Bondi local Genna Chantelle Hayes is set to premiere her latest film, which delves into the plight of women’s homelessness in Sydney. Surviving Bug, directed and written by Hayes, follows the journey of a 17-year-old girl struggling to live on the streets after she finds she is pregnant.
Ms Hayes said that filmmaking seemed like a natural career choice for her as she grew up telling stories from a young age.
“I always loved writing and acting. There are more great actors than there are great stories out there. I wanted to start creating on the story side and one thing led to another,” she said.
The film stars Sydney actress Zoe Carides, who believes it’s refreshing to see young female storytellers.
“I had a strong feeling that I wanted to be involved in something like Surviving Bug, something that would elucidate some dark area of life like this has,” Ms Carides said.
“I’m always fascinated to see young women writing and directing, I think it’s excellent. [Women’s homelessness] is also a very worthy thing to shine a light on.”
The significance of the film’s subject matter also ensured that Ms Hayes was able to secure funding with relative ease.
“I wanted to keep the budget as small as possible. It’s a passion project, therefore I wanted everybody to get involved because they really cared about the project. We contacted [CEO of Homelessness NSW] Gary Moore and within twenty minutes of talking to him, he contacted Domestic Violence NSW and they matched each other for funding.”
Mr Moore says Surviving Bug is just one way of raising awareness about domestic violence in the community.
“Domestic violence remains on the rise. It is so important for the broader community to understand that it is never acceptable and that we can all do things to prevent it. Genna’s film is one way to help drive this message home,” he said.
Pursuing an acting career that led her around the world, Ms Hayes found the issue of homelessness to be inescapable.
“In cities from San Diego to Marrakech to Sydney, it’s an issue that is so widespread. There are people suffering everywhere and it is really hard as the cost of living is getting higher and higher, which is a major contributor to women and young girls becoming homeless,” she said.
Out of the 1.3 billion people who are homeless in the world, 70 per cent are estimated to be women and children.
“While equality is moving forward, women in many countries are still not seen as equal. There is a lack of access to education that limits women being able to make their own money and take care of their children independently,” Ms Hayes argued.
The issue is a timely one, with the state government recently cutting funding for women’s shelters in Sydney. Five million dollars will be diverted to regional areas, meaning 20 homes around the inner city will close in July.
“It’s just crazy. How can homelessness in our society not be a priority? We have to take care of each other,” Ms Hayes said.