Kelly Depeault was shocked when she read the script for Naomi says yes, the first feature film by director Geneviève Albert, which explores the issue of child prostitution. Although the subject of her “disgusted”, the 19-year-old actress insisted on defending the main role of the film because she was driven by the desire to denounce this scourge.
Kelly Depeault does not hide it: she first wanted to refuse to play the main character of Naomi says yes. Shocked and saddened by the reading of the film’s script, the actress still agreed to go for coffee with the director, Geneviève Albert.
“Geneviève explained her vision to me and told me that in the prostitution scenes she wanted to focus on the clients and not on my body. She helped me say yes,” says Kelly Depeault in an interview with Trunk.
“Even though my character is attacked, I didn’t feel exposed in the movie. With a focus on men [qui ont recours à la prostitution], the film denounces this horrible and disgusting act. It is important to show the client, because many times he is the one who causes the damage. I think it is an important and necessary film. »
The Noémie played by Kelly Depeault in the film did not have it easy. At 15, she has been living in a youth center for three years, hoping to return to live with her mother.
Unfortunately, Noémie’s hopes are shattered the day her mother admits to a judge in court that she doesn’t feel capable of taking her daughter home. Knocked down, Noémie runs away from the youth center to reunite with her friend Léa (Emi Chicoine), a former youth center. While hanging out with Léa’s new friends, Noémie falls into the arms of Zach (James Edward Métayer), a charismatic young pimp who uses her charm to convince her to work as a prostitute during the F1 Grand Prix weekend. .
Kelly Depeault has been offered the lead role of Naomi says yes without having an audition. Director Geneviève Albert was particularly convinced by the performance of the young actress in The Goddess of FirefliesAnaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s latest film, released last year.
“When I saw Kelly, I couldn’t imagine anyone else to play that role,” says Geneviève Albert. Kelly is a young actress who has amazing, raw and immense talent. For me, she is the feminine Théodore Pellerin. She has incredible talent, a very strong screen presence and great precision in her portrayal. She is an open heart on screen. She really rose to the challenge with flying colors, taking on the film with all her heart and intelligence. »
Geneviève Albert has started work on the script for Naomi says yes seven years ago. Initially, she wanted to make a film about life in youth centers. But while she was interning for a few months at a center, she heard several stories of girls being recruited by pimps as teenagers.
“I said to myself: Well, let’s see! Later, while researching the subject, he learned that the average age of entry into prostitution in Canada was 14 or 15 years old, he continues. So I decided to focus my film on this problem, hoping that people will be moved, upset and shocked by this story, that it will open the discussion about prostitution in our society. »
The delicate and harrowing scenes in which Noémie receives a dozen clients a day were shot over five days in a Montreal hotel room, under the supervision of an intimacy coordinator. Geneviève Albert wanted to film these scenes realistically without falling into pornography or sensationalism. Also, as she had promised Kelly Depeault, the director has been customer-focused.
“I wanted to direct my camera towards the clients because they are the great invisibles of prostitution, insists Geneviève Albert. We don’t know who they are. While we are prostitutes, we talk about them and talk about their background. But who are the customers? However, if there were no customers, there would be no prostitution. I told myself that in my film I was going to make them exist, and that they were going to have a face, flesh and sweat. »
♦ Noemie says yes hits theaters April 29.