Garderie Nocturne

Garderie Nocturne is a beautifully observed documentary focusing on Ms. Coda’s night nursery, looking after the babies and infants of women who work at night in the sex trade. Despite the contentious issues that might surround the subject, this film is purely a slice of life of what is. It shows a very domestic story in a world of women.

Odile and Faurida and others, they drop off their weans at Ms. Coda’s as night falls, breastfeeding them til they fall asleep full. Some nights we follow Ms. Coda and her daughter-in-law as they keep an eye over their sleeping charges, soothing them if they wake, and feeding them if they get restless. The children will play together, making friends and inventing games. The occasional gurns and cries are soothed quickly by Ms. Coda’s rocking and lullabies. An elderly woman, she has been looking after kids all her life, and is trusted by the women to take good care of them.

Some nights we follow the lassies out at work, strolling around outside clubs and bars. They drive off on the backs of motorcycles and return in the early hours of the morning, collecting their kids before dawn to take them home.

At home, the women live together in a shared house, a compound behind a metal gate. They share everything they have, living as an extended family. They cook together, eat together, bathe the kids together, and feed each other’s kids at their breast. They support each other and share stories about handling clients and unwanted male attention. In their reminiscences, they share strategies to keep each other safe, and lift each other’s spirits with laughter.

Despite how portrayals of women in sex work usually focus on the negative, traumatic, and dramatic aspects of their lives, Garderie Nocturne focuses on this world of women, sharing, protecting, providing and supporting one another. Really good film.

If you liked this…