The actress Geneviève Rochette pays a magnificent tribute to her grandmother

Comedian Geneviève Rochette pays a magnificent tribute to her grandmother. re


In Guadeloupe, when someone dies, they say “he rode ofilao”. This magnificent, enigmatic expression, meaningful and tinged with mystery, is also the title of the first novel by Geneviève Rochette, an actress, historian and playwright who also reveals her talent as a writer. Through the character of Inès, Geneviève Rochette navigates between Quebec, France and Guadeloupe, in search of memories and roots, but also in a quest for identity.

The story tells the journey of Inès, daughter of a Guadeloupean and a Quebecer, who goes to her grandmother, Théolia, in Guadeloupe. In 2009, the country was in crisis and Théolia brought together her son and granddaughter who had not seen each other for years, one living in Paris and the other in Montreal. She wants to reconcile them with their past.

On the plane, Inès reads a manuscript by her writer father and rediscovers part of her life from a new angle. Exploring the various branches of her family tree, Inès begins a journey back to her origins and seeks to understand what built her up. Several poets come to feed her reflection: Aimé Césaire, Alain Grandbois, Gaston Miron.

Geneviève Rochette is very happy with the publication of her first novel. Another string to his bow and an artistic project that has done him good. 

“It’s crazy, it’s like a great freedom! It's really a project that I've been dragging on for a long time and there have been a lot of pitfalls, a lot of deaths associated with it. It's a tribute to my grandmother, whom I loved very much”, she comments, in a telephone interview.

The project, first worked to become a screenplay, is is metamorphosed into a novel. 

“There is something very liberating when you decide to take up the pen for a novel. Many obstacles jump. I really had fun doing that.”

His grandmother 

Ofilao is he autobiographical?

“Recently, one of my grandmother's very good friends read the novel and said to me: I heard it and I saw it everywhere. But it is fiction. That is to say, it's inspired by her, her accent, her colors, her warmth, but it's really a made-up story.”

“The character of Inès comes from a Guadeloupean father and a Quebec mother. Me, it was the opposite: my mother was from Guadeloupe and my father was from Quebec. Inès lived a little back and forth that I lived: Damencourt, it was the house of my grandparents. My grandmother came from Morne-à-l'Eau.”

“For the fiction to be credible, I really started from my experience. Inès spent whole summers there, she went there almost every year. Me, it was pretty much the same thing. I went there a lot. I spent whole summers with my grandmother. The Damencourt house is the house where I spent most of my time when I was in Guadeloupe.”


Geneviève Rochette talks about interbreeding in Ofilao

“In a microcosm like Guadeloupe, what is impressive is to see how much racial cleavage still exists and is still very, very strong. When I was young, I perceived it in a somewhat hazy, somewhat ambiguous way. But it's pernicious.”

She gives the example of an anecdote taken from the novel, where Inès' grandmother, passing through Montreal, picks her up at school, and where someone one says: your grandmother is black! 

“I really experienced that. It was really the first time that I became aware of skin color, that we designate ourselves by the skin color of people. It upset me a bit. It's something that seemed completely absurd and disturbing to me, in my life.”

  • Geneviève Rochette has participated in the writing of several plays for young people and co-founded the Théâtre de l 'Allumette.
  • She took part in the writing of shows for the Zapartistes group, of which she was a member until 2005 and which received the Gémeaux prize for best variety text in 2004.
  • She is a graduate of INIS in screenwriting and of the National Theater School of Canada.
  • She wrote the screenplay for Tuesday morning somewhere, which won the prize for best film in short film at the Barcelona Festival de Cinema Politic.
  • She played the character of Isabelle Lévis in the series La Galère.
  • She is currently completing her master's degree in history.