Winter Buoy is Cannes-awarded Frida Kempff’s first feature documentary, a poetic and intimate story that portrays life in all its fragility. It is a film about trust and the courage to never stop hoping. In icy mid-winter Toronto, a group of pregnant women desperately strive to regain control of their lives. They have insurmountable forces against them: homelessness, drug addiction, violent relationships. But following these particular individuals are the attentive eyes of their guardian angels, the social workers of a unique public health initiative. If these expectant mothers can only manage to break free of the vicious cycles dogging their steps, they have a chance to keep their newborns.
I follow the work of this group of nurses and their clients during a winter. This film is not looking for a more true picture of these socially exposed women, but depicts the processes that interact when people are most vulnerable – and struggling to get a better life. No questions are too big to face, and the nurses help make it possible for the women to dare dealing with them. I want to be consistent in my storytelling. I strive for simplicity and purity, both visually and in sound. For every scene I shoot, I ask myself why. Every element has to be questioned. I pare back more and more until I reach a core, until I feel confident that it’s this alone that must be told.
Frida Kempff, director, 2014