Remember the squatters? Last winter, there was a media fest in Miami about homeless families taking over abandoned, foreclosed homes. After New Times broke the story, broadcasts from CNN to NPR followed. The tale had an apocalyptic, end-of-days vibe to it. South Florida's real estate bust was so bad it felt like the next step would be Herbert Hoover-style shacks in Central Park.
Things are looking better now, but the squatter movement is stronger than ever. And one documentarian has journeyed from Canada to turn Miami's economic weirdness into a powerful narrative.
Luca Lucarini is a soft-spoken filmmaker who works with RomanRain Films productions. He squatted in houses in London years ago and once worked on a film called Steal This Film. He's now filming "vignettes to illustrate the craziness" in Miami and has spent weeks following around Max Rameau, the passionate director of Take Back the Land. Luca is also focusing on a squatter named Mary Trody. She's a mother of 12 who was evicted from her home. Other homeless folks have occupied foreclosed abodes in Liberty City and Brownsville.
So far, media has oversimplified Mary's story. Says Luca: "[Coverage] makes her look like a victim. It's always, 'Look at this poor lady -- it's so sad.' But actually she's taking control of her life."
Miami is the perfect place to tell the story, Luca says. The city's scenery is cinematic and offers the most dramatic glimpse into the real estate bust. "It's a special case. Miami is big in terms of showing the rise and fall of the industry... It's not a coincidence this is happening here."