Femme Filmmakers Festival 7 Review: L’autre rive

Year: 2022

Runtime: 17 minutes

Director/Writer: Gaëlle Graton

Actors: Judith Baribeau, Rosalie Fortier

By Dominic Corr

The humanitarian crisis across the world continues. 

If anything, it worsens. 

From filmmaker Gaëlle Graton, their debut film “L’autre rive” (A Shore Away) is a passion project from the storyteller who seeks to create and engage with the awareness of social issues: particularly homelessness. 

Shot on location in a working emergency shelter in Montreal, QC, Canada, “L’autre rive” finds a newly employed caretaker/cleaner working within the shelter for those experiencing temporary and extensive homelessness. Genevieve, previously a social worker, is distraught and shaken when she encounters Camille, a young woman she thought had hopefully reintroduced to the world during her time as a social worker.  

The film sets out to upturn the myths surrounding homelessness and demonstrate the spread of the social injustice, one which impacts every community, nation and the peculiar sense of individual responsibility/judgement which goes hand-in-hand with those living on the streets. 

Rosalie Fortier takes on an arduous and distinctly difficult part with Camille – the young woman who returns to the shelter after rejecting the offer of a bedsit from her social worker. To convey the complexity in the mindset of someone who has been homeless for a general viewer is remarkable. Fortier never asks for pity, but rather an attempt at understanding the choices made and view the character as human – all of which they are successful in doing. 

Their relationship with the shelter’s cleaner Geneviève is the film’s raison d’être – and without the chemistry of Fortier and Judith Baribeau, the success of the short would falter tremendously. Our focal point protagonist, though Fortier’s Camille is the driving force of the narrative, it’s Baribeau’s experience and life we follow – from the cleaning of the shelter, to the taped-up notes from her family. 

A mark of genius to Graton’s script is we know nothing outside of this shelter. Audiences have no information of Camille or Geneviève’s lives beyond the walls. Family, lovers, aspirations – nothing is given outside of a few character statements or Camille’s talents with art. It hones a focus on the performances, and the subtle shades of emotion Baribeau goes through. 

The language in Graton’s script, in discussing the allure of the city’s lights and the stars in the sky – the flittering of animals around the tents. It’s something most of us can never fathom but can wholly comprehend in the short’s exceptional scripting and performance. A remarkably honest film, void of unnecessary noise and clutter, “L’autre rive” is a short everyone would benefit from watching.

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