Synopsis: Esther, a young and solitary woman, starts spying on Antoine, her new next-door neighbor. As another young woman moves in with him, Esther’s growing obsession over the couple paradoxically leads her to confront her uneasy relationship to her own body.
Guillaume Marty (Antoine)
Louise Pasteau (Estelle)
François Muller (A voyeur)
Courtyards and voyeurism have often been combined in films. But what if the voyeur
was a she?
Through “Voyeuse”, I wanted to tell a story of female desire and challenge the deep-rooted prejudice that voyeurism can only be male. This is precisely the idea that I decided to toy with when I chose the title “Voyeuse”, the French feminine declension of the noun “voyeur” and a word so little used that it practically is a neologism.
As for me, male and female sexual desires are much more similar than western societies would like us to believe. Female desire is often portrayed as connected to feelings, as more virtuous than its male counterpart. To be frank, I think it is essentially much more monitored. While it is widely admitted that men have strong primitive urges, physiologically rooted in them, women showing equally pressing needs will inevitably attract derogatory labels on them. Still, biologically speaking, women too experience hormonal rushes, though theirs might be more cyclic.
The control of primal urges is certainly a pillar of society, but I do believe that admitting their existence is a crucial step towards understanding our inner nature and acquiring the ability to find one’s personal balance and identity. Yet, many woman are still, to this day, held back by inherited moral chains so that it might seem safer and easier for them to let themselves be guided by male desires and never truly acknowledge their own sexuality and needs.
This is exactly what Esther, Voyeuse’s main character, is struggling with: a young woman having clearly been raised with strict traditional values, she is going on thirty without having ever been through a proper adolescent crisis. But when a new next-door neighbor moves in, she is soon overcome by her attraction for him and embarks on the long-delayed discovery journey of her own sensuality and animality.
In the making of this film, I tried to explore these themes both openly and subtly, while avoiding any kind of exploitation. I also considered a complete mutual trust between the main actress and I a crucial prerequisite and was very grateful that the casting sessions allowed me to meet Camille Blouet, with whom I was of the same mind about the whole project.
Florence Sobieski is a French director who has studied and worked in Lyon, Toulouse, New York and Paris, and is now established in Toronto. She has worked on French, American and Canadian film and TV productions and speaks English fluently.
She has produced and directed several short films over the years, many of which are fictional. In terms of aesthetics, she favours simplicity and elegance. In terms of subject, she likes to focus on female characters struggling with their identities.
In addition, one of her main interests is on directing the actors. Both as a director and an occasional actress, she never gets tired of exploring this art, through classes, personal research and on-set practice.
In may 2011, her movie “Waiting”, shot in NYC in Fall 2010, went to the Short Film Corner in Cannes. There, it found a multiplatform British distributor : Shorts International, and is now available on iTunes and Amazon.
In 2014, her next movie, “Voyeuse”, screened in several international festivals around the world, including the ÉCU in Europe. “Voyeuse” tells the story of a solitary young woman who fantasizes about her new neighbor, thus tackling the issue of a taboo-ridden female sexuality. It won the Best Foreign Film Award at the Lady Filmmakers Film Festival of Beverly Hills and the Best Short Film Award at Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival.
Florence Sobieski’s following work, the short film “Still”, focuses on a forty-year-old woman who, sitting in a park, becomes the accidental witness of domestic abuse. The film got awarded Best Alumni at the Lady Filmmakers Film Festival in Beverly Hills and its main actress, Sabine Laurent, won the Best Actor in a Short Dramedy award at San Francisco’s 2019 Best Actors Film Festival.
These days, Sobieski works as a full-time director for the French-speaking TV channel TFO, in Toronto. In parallel, she is developing a feature film script for a thriller taking place in the world of truck drivers. She is also currently prepping the bilingual short film “Tête à Tête”, to be shot in Toronto in Spring 2021.
Lady Filmmakers Film Festival, Beverly Hills, CA - United States - 2013
Best Foreign Film (Florence Sobieski)
Female Eye Film Festival, Toronto, ON - Canada - 2014
Best Short Film (Florence Sobieski)
FICEG, Grenoble - France - 2015
Audience's Choice (Florence Sobieski)
RxSM Self-Medicated Film Expo, Austin, TX - United States - 2014
Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York - United Kingdom - 2014
Festival de Luchon - France - 2015
New Filmmakers LA, CA - United States - 2015
The European Independent Film Festival, Paris - France - 2015
"Voyeuse" referenced Hitchcock’s great commentary on the nature of cinematic voyeurism, "Rear Window", showing its lonely protagonist Esther’s growing obsession with spying on her handsome neighbour, Antoine. It was beautifully constructed, with subtle moments, such as Esther responding to hearing a woman laugh in Antoine’s flat by running across the room to her vantage point, working perfectly to tell the story and show the agonizing emotions behind it, and ended on a terrific twist." - Rosemary Collins & Rhys Thompson, Nouse