“Noémie says yes”, a raw look at juvenile prostitution at the opening of the RVQC

In a scene from the movie Noémie says yes, by Geneviève Albert, a group of young pimps throw themselves on an inflatable doll and use her without reserve, before blowing her up with a revolver. The brutality of this scene introduces the spectator to the violence that the young Noémie, played here by the sparkling Kelly Depeault, will suffer during the marathon of prostitution to which the Grand Prix de Montréal gives rise each year.

Noémie says yes, Geneviève Albert’s first feature film, which opens the Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma, is a fiction film. However, the journey of young Noémie, 15, from family abandonment to the youth center, from running away in the arms of a pimp to prostitution, is almost banal as it is so common.

Prostitution, this drama that plays out behind closed doors, has obsessed Geneviève Albert for decades. For her first feature film, she wanted to give it a face, but also reveal what surrounds it, the distress, the wandering, and also, the customers. “Prostitution, she said in an interview, is a bed, sheets that you replace, condoms that you throw away. »

Twelve to fifteen clients a day, that’s the usual workload of a prostitute during the Grand Prix, or even during any day of the year, recalls Geneviève Albert, to whom we already owe a few short films , whose Crossing the living room and eroticism.

In his film, it is this repetition, voluntarily supported, which gives the measure of the aggression undergone daily by the prostitutes.

Uncover customers

And it is on the clients, rather than on the women’s bodies, that Geneviève Albert wanted to aim her camera, these invisible men from whom we prefer to look away. In an interview, the filmmaker also reveals that she erased from the distribution an actor who was to play a client, after learning that he had been the client of a young prostitute who collaborated with her.

“And he pretended not to know how to do it!” » she is indignant.

These clients, they are for the most part “ordinary”, faithful to the description given by the women involved in prostitution whom the filmmaker met to make her film. One after the other, they force their way into the body of Noémie, who has agreed to lend herself to the trade under the pressure of her lover, who is quickly transformed into a pimp. She said yes while her body said no. Because the title of the film tackles head-on the delicate question of consent.

“I paid”, says a client, who unexpectedly showed up at the sexual meeting accompanied by a friend, when Noémie asked him to go out. “I paid, so you do what I want” is the negotiation of this agreement, as old as the world, it seems, that Geneviève Albert has never accepted or understood.

“I am an abolitionist,” she confirms, distancing herself in the same breath from those who claim that prostitution is a job like any other. She does not fail to recall, moreover, at the end of her film, that the average age of entry into prostitution in Quebec is 14 or 15 years old, according to data from the Council on the Status of Women.

Even young Kelly Depeault, who shot all the nude sex scenes, 14 hours a day, for five days, had to occasionally disassociate herself from her body to bear the stress of the situation. She even asked the film crew to wear bunny ears all the time to entertain the idea of ​​prostitution during breaks.

“And me, I pretend, says the young actress, who will be 20 soon, and who already shone with all her fire last year in The Goddess of Fireflies, by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette. It has nothing to do with the suffering of those who do it for real. »

All these underage girls

When filming, Kelly Depeault constantly thought of all these girls, minors, on whose bodies prostitution was played out in the shadows, while she applied herself to resembling them. The latter are sold, most often without family and friends, and of course without a film crew to support them. “The women I met all told me that it was an environment where you didn’t make friends,” and where men regularly exchange their own lovers, says Geneviève Albert. In the film, it is Léa, Noémie’s only friend, who delivers her to the instincts of the group.

Geneviève Albert wanted to make her film a sensory experience. “After a scene with a client, we understand what happens in prostitution, after 15 scenes, we feel it,” she summarizes.

The goal is achieved and the mission accomplished. After 15 customers parading and whom we support without desire, we only dream of fleeing, like Noémie, screaming with our heads in the wind, towards an uncertain elsewhere.

Noémie says yes will be presented Wednesday at the Monument-National at 7 p.m., at the opening of the Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma. The film will be released on April 29.

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