“Noémie says yes”, but Geneviève says no
Kelly Depeault in the role of Noémie
For her first feature film, director Geneviève Albert wanted to address juvenile prostitution, a reality that has long touched and aroused her indignation.
The director is unequivocal: she has an abolitionist position on prostitution.
“I don't understand that prostitution exists in our society. I don't understand the transaction of buying a person's body to dispose of it as it pleases. I want to live in a society where this scourge does not exist,” she told Métro during an interview.
Geneviève Albert believes that there is inherent violence in prostitution.
“The majority of people who prostitute themselves, even when they consent to it in the first place, are not going to be spared in most cases the catastrophic consequences of prostitution. Post-traumatic shock, decorporation, mental health disorders, poverty, hypervigilance. It's dramatic what they experience after their time in prostitution.”
Important research work
For several years, the director and screenwriter of the film prepared herself by researching the subject. Academic research by reading literature, as well as field research with survivors of prostitution and others still active when Geneviève Albert met them.
She believes that this research enabled her to write “a realistic film, which plunges us into what day-to-day prostitution really is”.
About the scenes where we see Noémie , the protagonist of the film, spending her days during the F1 Grand Prix in a hotel room chaining dozens of customers, the director indicates that this is really how it happens.
She specifies that it is no coincidence that she set her film during the period of the Grand Prix.
“The demand for sexual services explodes during F1. Many young girls begin prostitution during this event. Pimps will recruit in youth centers.”
Kelly Depeault and James-Edward Métayer in a scene from Noémie says yes.< /em>
Try to be comfortable in the uncomfortable
By their nature, some scenes in Noémie dit oui are very difficult.
Being a female filmmaker, Geneviève Albert questioned herself a lot about how she was going to shoot the scenes in prostitution.
She decided to aim her camera at the customers and never show everything frontally. The most important thing was that Noémie and the client were never together in the same setting, which would have “established a relationship between the characters”, whereas, for her, “prostitution is not a relationship, it's a relationship of power, of domination”.
Imagining shooting these scenes initially put off actress Kelly Depeault, interpreter of Noémie, but when Geneviève Albert explained her vision to her over a coffee, the actress felt reassured and accepted the role.
There was no audition. Geneviève Albert had seen Kelly Depeault in The Goddess of Firefliesand was amazed. It was her that it absolutely took him, she ruled.
Obviously, this kind of scene is not pleasant to shoot, but Kelly Depeault did not feel sexualized. She understood that these scenes were necessary to demonstrate the subject.
To lighten the mood during filming, the actress, who loves rabbits, asked that all crew members present wear bunny ears, just to decompress between takes.
It was something that helped her a lot.
Previously, on the set of The Goddess of Fireflies, during nudity scenes, the actress had asked that everyone on the team wear boxers.
“It's not true that I'm going to be the only one to be completely naked”, she thought to herself.
Long auditions were however held to choose the interpreters for the clients. At the end of these, it was the actress who chose those with whom she was most comfortable.
The scenes were rehearsed, the whole staging determined in advance, “the frames, the camera movements, the choreographies of the actors, everything was planned to the quarter turn so that at the time of the shooting, we did exactly what we said we were going to do. It’s made everyone safe, Kelly first,” says the director.
A desire for change
Despite everything, when she thought of the people who really live this hell, the actress found the experience difficult and could even feel like an impostor. She had to remember that she had a goal: to represent this reality and hope that it could generate change, or even contribute to putting an end to this practice.
A wish shared by Geneviève Albert.
“I want people to be moved by the film, that it provokes discussions in our society, on an individual level, but also on a political level. I hope to nurture the political will of our governments to do something about prostitution”, she concludes.
Noémie says yes was presented at the opening of the Rendez -vous Québec Cinéma.
The film will be released on April 29.