Hidden behind her nets above the courtyard her flat overlooks, nothing escapes Yvette’s attention. 95 years young, she was once caretaker of the block she’s called home for 64 years.

You can’t move for clocks in the flat she lives in; a place she hasn’t left for a full 6 years. The caretaker’s instinct lives on; this venerable lady doesn’t miss a trick and isn’t afraid to speak her mind…no matter who’s listening.

Directed by Julien Potart
Photography: Julien Gidoin
Sound: Camille Limousin
Music: Virgile Allien
Colour grading: Ishrann Silgidjian
Sound Mixing: Xavier Thieulin
Thank you to Jodie Clifford


Jullien Potart | 99.media

Julien Potart Filmmaker

“Yvette was a well known character in the neighbourhood, famous for calling a spade a spade!”
  • Please briefly introduce yourself, Julien.

I’m a documentary filmmaker. I’ve also worked in advertising, but documentaries are my real forte. It’s telling that wherever I go, especially when I’m overseas for film shoots, I buy up DVDs of documentaries that aren’t available for broadcast in France.

My other ‘hat’ is as a programmer. This line of work saw me organise the evening series of the “Club Docu” at the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris. I showcased films made overseas that were previously unseen in France. A few months ago, I also launched the series “Food/Film”: film screenings with a ‘taster menu’ format. Basically, the audience watches a documentary about food, the art of cooking, nutrition…before bouncing straight into a food tasting social where the same dishes seen on screen are sampled. It’s pretty cool!

Yvette | 99.media
  • How did you meet Yvette?

Yvette used to be the caretaker of the building I live in in Paris. She was a well known character in the neighbourhood of la rue de Lappe, famous for calling a spade a spade! I never knew her when she was working; she had already retired when I moved in.

Friends who had an office in the courtyard of the building did know her, though. They told me that delivery drivers were always on their guard, given Yvette’s combative instinct for unknown faces! I realised she was quite a force after tradespeople tried parking in the courtyard. Yvette was the first to remind them that it wasn’t allowed! You couldn’t mistake her unique delivery as she broke the news through the window. Before making the film though, I had never spoken to her.

I really got to know Yvette when I took an interest in the plants in our courtyard. Every evening, I gave them some water, and when I tended the ones below her window, she popped her head out and we had a chat. Never for long, but it became a habit. I hadn’t been invited to her flat before, but the new caretaker dropped by each day – he told me about Yvette’s life, and all that went with it…

One day, I asked if I could visit her for the afternoon, just to chat and do some filming. She didn’t take any persuading.

Her lightheartedness hides nothing of her power though; she’s a woman who’s lived through a lot and made it on her own.
  • It’s important to point out that Yvette sadly died towards the end of 2022.

Yes. And making this kind of film was something I had hoped to do with my own gran, but I never got round to it. I’ve always regretted it, so I didn’t want to miss out again.


I wanted to know more about Yvette and this sparked the film. She was a patchwork of neighbourhood hearsay, but I wanted to get to know her firsthand. So many rumours abounded, I wanted to cut to the chase!


Plus, when we had our little chats, I knew she’d be great on film. Her voice was unique, and she had her own special way of spinning a yarn. Her flat was a pearl as well! One of my neighbours, a photographer, described it to me, with its birds, clocks and such like. I was keen to see it with my own eyes.


I could also see that Yvette lacked company. Even though she couldn’t make it out any more, she never missed the chance to speak with passersby through the window. I told myself that even if there was no guarantee of success, an afternoon together filming was a good excuse for her to connect. That, at least, would be something…

Yvette | 99.media
  • The film raises a smile. There’s an obvious lighthearted warmth.

I think the film reflects the time I spent with Yvette. I went to see her with Julien, a cameraman whose work I’m really into, and Camille, a sound engineer. Even though Yvette was a bit taken aback by all the equipment, she soon became her playful old self with us. She liked to win hearts and was a past master at it. Thanks to this, the shoot was really relaxed.

She sat on her favourite chair and we began chatting. She broke off from time to time to take care of her birds or watch TV. At the end of it all, the time we spent together had a grandma-grandson vibe. I wanted to get this across in the film, so I made sure to leave space for the little moments that make you smile. Her lightheartedness hides nothing of her power though; she’s a woman who’s lived through a lot and made it on her own.

  • What are your plans?

Over the last two years, I’ve focussed on creating a documentary platform: sitnwatch.tv. It’s the ‘yin’ to 99’s ‘yang’, in that I only include feature length documentaries, with just one new film added each month.

I now have more time to get my head back into filmmaking, so I’m in the thick of plotting new documentaries that I hope to make soon. Alongside this, I’m working as a programmer for the Paris Surf and Skateboard Film Festival, which, as the name suggests, is a film festival celebrating these two passions. Our little team of enthusiasts are busy preparing the 9th edition and we still have lots left to do!

Yvette | 99.media
  • A few words about 99 and your film’s accessibility thanks to subtitling in several languages?

It’s great that the film can find its level among new audiences. I hope it inspires others to reach out to their neighbours, especially if they are elderly and live alone.

  • Do you have a favourite film on the 99 platform that you’d recommend?

I really like “Born to be Mild”. I love people who have niche hobbies, so this film really socked it to me!

Plus, I really like the idea of going against the grain, of showing something other than the beautiful, shiny side of life. Celebrating what is normal (some might even say boring), has its own merits! I’m holding out for an extended version, in fact!

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