Private Project


Dawn in Venice Beach, California. Every morning, the homeless living by the beach wake up and have to tidy up the space where they spend the night. As the sun slowly rises, their voices express their views of the world. Every morning, as in a Sisyphean play, it looks as if nothing has changed. Every morning, little by little, the neighbourhood by the sea they call home and the country are changing in strange and terrifying ways.

  • Marion Naccache
    CONEY ISLAND, (last summer) 2010
  • Marion Naccache
  • Marion Naccache
  • Jérome Czapka
  • Ailton Franco Jr.
  • Franck Leibovici
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 19 minutes 8 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 17, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Cinéma du réel
    March 18, 2021
    World Premiere
    official selection competition
Director Biography - Marion Naccache

Marion Naccache lives and works between Paris and Rio de Janeiro. She studied contemporary poetry at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon. In 2008, she starts composing video essays that have been shown in several contemporary art institutions (Miami Basel, Southard Reid Gallery, London; Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Gulbenkian Foundation, Paris) and poetry venues (Chelsea Hotel, Festival PAN!, Nioques, OEI, Labia Gentil). CONEY ISLAND, (last summer), 2010, her first feature documentary film, has been presented in international film festivals (Miami, Entrevues Belfort, Rio de Janeiro). The film observes one summer, which was supposed to be the last one, of the amusement park and starts a series of movies about urban beaches which develop a contemplative form of observation based on time, distance and repetition to look at the world at a different pace. VENICE BEACH, CA., her second feature film, continues that dispositive and takes it further.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

VENICE BEACH, CA. is the third part of a trilogy about urban beaches after CONEY ISLAND, (last summer), (2010), my first feature documentary, which observes what was supposed to be the last summer of the famous amusement park, and ARPOADOR, (2015), a video essay about 80 square meters of sand and ocean in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most famous beaches at sunset. It observes the social ritual of gathering every day, after work, in the open, moving all social activities from the city to the beach to watch the sun setting in the ocean,
VENICE BEACH, CA. observes another specific time of the day. The film focuses on the sunrise over the boardwalk of Venice beach and the forms of life that happen there. It is probably the most literal answer to the general question behind all three movies: how do we inhabit complex social spaces such as urban beaches?
Here, the answer is more literal because at sunrise, those who inhabit the beach are the community of homeless people who actually live there.
I decided to observe the boardwalk of Venice beach during one fall, which happened to be the one Donald Trump got elected in 2016, between 5am and 9am, using two kinds of observational tools.
First with my camera, by filming the daily repetition of sysiphean mornings: because the homeless people are allowed to sleep on one side of the boardwalk but they cannot stay there during the day, every morning, they have to move all their belongings from one side of the boardwalk to the other. When you walk around Venice between 5am and 9am, you feel like you are in someone’s living room, or in someone’s home while seeing everybody waking up and starting their day.
But I also decided to collect voices from the boardwalk, recording sound without images. My initial idea was very much inspired by Charles Reznikoff’s objectivist poetry. In his book Testimony, the American poet selected excerpts from the minutes of criminal law trials throughout the United
States and edited them together in order to write a collective narration out of individual experiences, offering a different kind of portrait of the country. I wanted to do something similar with Venice beach boardwalk’s homeless community. At first, I thought I would collect many life stories, and I did, but I also collected very strong political visions of the world. Just by giving them the possibility to speak and to be heard I ended up with a series of very powerful cosmogonies that I tried to put together in the soundtrack of the movie to hopefully allow a collective cosmogony from Venice to emerge.
That dispositive can seem surprising at first: you will not see a series of portraits of homeless people, you won’t see the faces of people talking in front of the camera, but you will see them, sometimes before, sometimes after, yet never simultaneously. It might also seem like nothing is happening, and, in a way, that’s true, this is definitely not an action movie, but, if you pay attention to the different layers of the images, you will see there is always something going on. This film is not about the losers of the American dream laying at the doors of Hollywood, it shows, without being naïve, the richness of their world.
I “grew up” studying contemporary poetry surrounded by several generations of poets and scholars. When I started making films, it appeared clearly that I took a camera in order to write in a different way, using other means, another language.
Because of the emergency of the homeless community in Venice, who is constantly threatened by real estate development and gentrification I could not wait for grants or public fundings to start shooting which is why the film was partly produced thanks to personal investment from French artist Franck Leibovici and myself. Therefore, the film was made in a “guerrilla cinema” way, as they say in Brazil. I developed the project with Ailton Franco Junior, producer of Franco Filmes and Produções who is currently fighting to survive under Jair Bolsonaro’s constant attacks against cinema, art and culture; and Jerome Czapka, who is the French executive producer of all my films and has been providing cameras, edit rooms and post production since CONEY ISLAND, (last summer).
After being part of the selection of Paris Docs 2020, the work in progress of Cinéma du Réel, and Cannes Docs-Marché du Film 2020, VENICE BEACH, CA. is now a picture lock and just had its premiere at Cinéma du réel.
I would just like to add that I am still in touch with all the people you will see and hear in this film, they are telling me all about quarantining out in the streets. They are worried, of course, because they are well aware of the pressure of coping with the global pandemic, the economic collapse, and the racial conflict in the United States. I have to say that their cosmogonies, what they tell us about the way they see the world, have been echoing a lot to me with the current situation, I hope they will for you as well.