Harbor [Short]

Life Can Be A Difficult Journey

by Liselotte Vanophem


When Adèle, an english teacher, spontaneously lets a young 15 years old migrant, illegaly board a ferry for england with her class, she is far from grasping the importance of her gesture and its consequences on this overnight trip.

Paul Marques Duarte

Blandine Jet, Paul Marques Duarte

Running Time:


“Too busy”, “Too Tired”, “Not enough money”. There are always moments in our lives that we think that all the problems of the world are resting on our shoulders.

Most of the time that’s not the case and films like the one from Paul Marques Duarte (“Sauver sa peau”, “Louis dans tous les sens”) about illegal immigration make us realize that our lives aren’t as bad as we think and feel.

In “Harbor” (original title: “Find Harbour For A Day”), English teacher Adèle (Marie Bunel) is taking her school children to a trip to the United Kingdom and they’re on their way to the ferry to Bournemouth. Everything seems to be going fine until a 15 year old boy jumps in front of their bus. Luckily no one gets hurt.

Still shaken up about what could have happened, Adèle and her children make their way to security. They see the same young boy again. This time, he’s trying to fit into their class to get on the ferry. Adèle knows that if she takes the boy, who has no papers, on the ferry with them that this would be illegal. Her teacher’s instinct rules over that thought and so she gets him on board.

It seems that the boy isn’t talkative at all and so connecting with him is harder than Adèle thought it would be. While she’s trying to do everything she can to get through to the boy, he’s doing things he’s not supposed to do. Going to places on the boat where he shouldn’t be.

It all goes sideways during one night when he’s caught by the security because he was on forbidden ground. What will happen to him and Adèle now that her actions are about to be revealed?

While there’s no “based on real-life events” sign at the beginning of the film, this movie is partly based on reality. Director Duarte mentioned that when he was helping at the refugee camp in Calais, he met a young boy who wanted to go to the United Kingdom illegally.

Duarte helped in out by helping him apply for asylum in France because that would be much safer. Together with co-writer Blandine Jet, Duarte decided to turn this real-life experience into a short film. An emotional short film that was created in very special ways.

First of all, the casting was a little bit unusual, especially for the leading character Adèle. Duarte tells us that he contacted the well-known French actress Marie Bunel (“Midnight Dreamers”, “Accidental Family”) via a Facebook message. To his surprise, she got back to him with the question to send her over the script. The rest is history!

According to Duarte himself, not a lot of famous French actors are still doing short movies and independent films so he found himself very lucky. Even more so because Bunel puts on a wonderful and immersive performance as the caring and worrying teacher who would do everything for her kids.

For the casting of the children, it was the regular casting. Seeing a lot of children of which some already acted and some didn’t. Eventually, Duarte decided to go for an existing class to portray the school children in this film. For them, it felt like an adventure. Thanks to the fact that the children already knew each other gives this film a more authentic vibe. It could have been you and me when we were younger.

What an adventure it was! During our interview, Duarte told us that they made the ferry trip between France and England more than ten times. Filming on the ferry was difficult. Not only because of the size of it but also because eventually, people got seasick.

Despite those difficulties, the director would do it again in the same way and we can only approve that. It was all filmed in real life and there were no special effects visible in this short movie. Because of this approach, we get the feeling that we’re on that boat and that we’re part of the class.

After travelling around the world to promote his film, Duarte was very excited to screen it at the Raindance Film Festival on the 22nd of September 2019. If you didn’t have the chance to catch it there, then we hope for you that “Harbor” will head to a film festival close to you because you need the opportunity to catch this wonderful, beautiful and emotional short film.

Read our interview with director/co-writer Paul Marques Duarte and producer Thomas Guentch here


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