At Télé-Secours, we are here to help elderly people in urgent need but, above all, we are here to listen...
This film from Alexandra Laffin offers an in-depth look at Télé-Secours, a Belgian support hotline for seniors, with no shortage of humour and love.
The opening scene sets the tone for this film, which uses direct cinema to marvelous effect, never cutting off its subjects, observing its generous and patient respondents with modesty and not a trace of contempt as they, sometimes at a bellow, do everything they can to alleviate the solitude and distress on the other end of the line.
This practice of listening extends beyond the calls. Laffin shares with us the sweet back-and-forth of two night shift workers as they fill the space between calls with conversations about the weather, various items of sordid trivia or new hobbies, exchanges that are regularly interrupted by the distant voices of their panicked, overwhelmed clients, at times lost in their own homes. Over the course of a shift, these routine calls offer a caring presence to isolated seniors. Help takes an immensely tender and respectful look at the ties, both necessary and precious, that are created between the callers and the called.
Alexandra Laffin is a Belgian documentary filmmaker. A graduate of the IAD, she first directed Les compères in 2007, a documentary about two long-time friends who meet up in the mountains for a few days. Then, in 2013, she signed her first feature film Help, selected at the RIDM. She is also an assistant director on short and feature films and on music videos.