Image: Isabelle Stachtchenko, Miryam Charles
Editor: Xi Feng
Production design: Georges Michael Fanfan, Annick Marion
Berlinale Forum, IndieLisboa, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Olhar de Cinema (Curitiba IFF), Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival, Montréal Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Viennale, Novos Cinema Film Festival.
Bridgeport, 2008. A teenage girl is found hanged in her room. While everything points to suicide, the autopsy report reveals something else. Ten years later, the director and cousin of the teenager examines the past causes and future consequences of this unsolved crime. Like an imagined biography, the film explores the relationship between the security of the living space and the violence that can jeopardise it.
In 2008 Tessa, aged 14, was found hanged in her bedroom. The autopsy showed that the girl had been raped and murdered before being hanged. Ten years later, her cousin Miryam Charles made Cette maison [This House], her first feature. The film begins with a clear proposition: the actress Schelby Jean-Baptiste, playing Tessa, invites us on a journey through time to three places: Haiti, the United States and Canada. Facing the camera, the actress explains that the film is about her, Tessa in an adult body that never existed, and her mother. Once the invitation is clear, the journey begins. It starts with Tessa and her mother looking at a picture in which we see a view of Haiti, their country of origin. It is a highly theatrical staging, explicitly constructing the setting. Surrounded by darkness, the two actresses are sitting on a rug looking at the pretty landscape in the picture. The image is completed by the sound of the sea, which is very much present. The theatricality of the scene and the clear presence of the different elements of which it is made up show the construction of the fiction. As if the director wanted to make the fabrication of the film visible. And not only that, but Charles, in a beautiful 16 mm, managed to make film shine with all its power as she sets out to "write a story, another story. An impossible story". Because film can do just this, tell impossible stories. Film makes it possible for Tessa herself to tell us her own story, her own birth and her own death.