Sun 12 Nov    •    10:00    •    Watershed

La Promesse

+ Discussion

Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne 
Cast: Oliver Gourmet, Assita Ouedraogo, Jérémie Renier
Belgium / France / Luxembourg / Tunisia, 1996, 90 mins, French / Romanian with English subtitles


Since its release over 10 years ago, La Promesse has become increasingly relevant in the age of economic migration. Igor, a young Belgian, is coming of age amidst the trafficking and exploitation of undocumented workers. Smuggling people into Antwerp, his father Roger offers work on his construction sites and provides them with inadequate housing at exorbitant rates. Roger shows little compassion towards the people he brings into Belgium. While learning the way of the family business, Igor’s moral compass begins to spin. When there is a tragedy on site, Igor is torn between loyalty to his father and a promise he has made. If he betrays his father, he faces violence and retribution. But can Igor’s conscience cope if he doesn’t keep his promise? La Promesse was a breakthrough feature by the Dardenne brothers, formerly documentary filmmakers. They challenge us to consider the lives of those on the brink of society and present fundamental social and moral dilemmas that both Igor and the audience must grapple with.