Archive of films On Call / La permanence

2016, 96 min

Section: Documentary Films - Competition
Year: 2016

This exquisitely measured, softly engaging documentary observes the events at a suburban Parisian doctor’s office where free consulting services are offered to immigrants from around the world. Dedicated to his profession, the internist provides them with a safe haven that prevents their lives from hitting rock bottom.


“I was told about peoples and humanity. But I saw neither people, nor humanity. I saw many people, all very different. Separated from each other by a void.” – thus the introductory quotation from Fernando Pessoa, foreshadowing the weight of a documentary story that unfolds at Avicenne Hospital in one of Paris’s northern suburbs. A rundown doctor’s surgery becomes the end of the line for the personal dramas of immigrants from around the world, but ultimately transforms into a safe haven that prevents their lives from sinking to the depths. The French director follows events in the spirit of documentarist Raymond Depardon; the emotional intensity of the moment comes in static shots of a working internist who is forced to provide psychological counseling to those without a roof over their head, no insurance, and often no hope. This exquisitely measured, softly engaging film represents the views of those sympathetic towards the plight of immigrants. At the same time it criticizes a society that only shares prosperity, leaving hardship as our own personal problem.

Martin Horyna

About the director

Alice Diop (b. 1979, Aulnay-sous-Bois, France), French director of Senegalese origin with a masters in history and a doctorate in visual sociology, attended a documentary workshop at La Fémis film school. Since 2005 she has written and directed several documentaries, including the medium-length titles La tour du monde (2006), Clichy pour l’exemple (2006), Les sénégalaises et la sénégauloise (2007), and Vers la tendresse (2015). Her feature debut La mort de Danton (2011) took the Library Award at Paris’s Cinéma du Réel festival, the Grand Prix at the Education Film Festival in Évreux, and a 2012 Scam Star. On Call is her second feature-length documentary.


2quater, place du Général de Gaulle, 931 00, Montreuil
Tel: +33 141 720 275

About the film

Color, DCP
International premiere

Section: Documentary Films - Competition
Director: Alice Diop
Screenplay: Alice Diop
Dir. of Photography: Alice Diop
Editor: Amrita David
Producer: Sophie Salbot
Production: Athénaïse
Contact: Athénaïse


Alice Diop

Film Director

Sophie Salbot



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