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Mommy – Now playing in your city (#55)

I have not yet written a post on Xavier Dolan, considering that he is now rather well-known across Canada (most of my blog posts concern Francophone Canadians who may not be so well known to Anglophones).  I did however give a brief mention to Dolan in the post l’Été indien.

But considering that Mommy is now playing across Canada, it may be a good time to let you know you can now see the movie over the next few days.

For those who are not aware, Xavier Dolan (from Montréal) is one of the most highly internationally acclaimed movie writers and director of his generation, and in the history of movie making, there have not been any other directors / writers who have won so many awards at such a young age.  He‘s in his mid-20’s.  By the time he was 16, he had a drawer-full of movie scripts.  By the time he was 19 he was already making movies.  As he entered his 20’s, the international awards and mentions were piling in.

This year he won the Cannes award for best movie, Mommy (the film festival in Cannes, France is regarded as giving the world’s top award for international & non-Hollywood films).   The same movie has been doing the rounds of the world’s film festivals, including Toronto’s TIFF, and keeps taking more and more awards.    Mommy is also Canada’s entry for best international film at this Oscars (if memory serves me correctly, it is one of only 9 nominees in this category).

Xavier Dolan has come out with other films of various degrees of success.  Owing to his age, many critics say we’re able to see the maturing of his movies in parallel with Dolan’s own process of maturing.   One of the other highly acclaimed films he came out with was J’ai tué ma mère.

I won’t spoil the plot for you, but Mommy stars Anne Dorval, who was the subject of a blog post a few days ago.

Apart from the Canadian film festival circuit (TIFF, MIFF, VIFF, Banff, etc.), Mommy is now starting to be shown in movie theatres across Canada, however the showings may not last any longer than just a few days.   You don’t want to delay checking the show times in your town or city, otherwise you will miss it.

In Québec, Northern New Brunswick, and Eastern/Northern Ontario, you likely just have to check your local theatre listings (for example, I know it’s being shown at the Cineplex in Caraquet, New Brunswick three times daily on October 14, 15, and 16 — thanks for the heads-up Jocelyne –… and likely there are similar showings in major theatre chains across the three above-mentioned Francophone regions).

Elsewhere in Canada, showings may be in more specialized theatres, so you’ll likely have to phone around, contact your city’s local arts & culture magazine, or contact your local French community associations (such as l’ACFA, l’association canadienne française de l’Alberta, etc).

Here in Toronto, it’s playing October 14, 15, and 16 at the Cineplex on 55 Bloor (Varsity area), (416) 961-6304.

Showings are announced to start in Vancouver on 17 October, and in Calgary and Edmonton on 24 October.   I also understand it will be shown in other cities across Canada (Saskatoon, Halifax, Moncton, possibly others), but I’m not able to find the exact locations for the above showings (which is why I suggest you make some phone calls).

If you want to see one of the best of best films which the world has to offer (don’t take my word for it – rather take everyone else’s), then you’ll want to catch this movie.

As an aside, until yesterday, Québec’s all-time best box-office hit in France was Les invasion barbares.   It was reported that Mommy beat that record today.

A couple more things …

  • I doubt the movie will be dubbed (meaning it shouldn’t be voice-overed into English), but I’m pretty sure it will at least have English captions at the bottom of the screen,
  • For those of you who are just starting to learn French (and there are a few of you) “Xavier” is pronounced “X” (like the name of the letter), A (as in “cat”), Vee-Eh:  “X”-A-Vee-Eh (4 syllables).   Keep up the good work with your French studies!  It all comes together one small piece at a time.  🙂
  • If you miss the showings for whatever reason, there are online pay-per-view internet sites where you can likely catch it later.

Make a few calls, gather some friends, buy a bag of popcorn, and make an evening of it.  Have a great time!


Québec’s own “Happy Birthday” song / de facto Anthem – Part 4 of 4 (#322)

This is the last of four posts on Québec’s “Happy birthday” song and de facto Anthem.

Like the last post, this one will also include a Language learning exercise.   This will be pertinent to honing your listening skills for oral French if you are at an elementary or intermediate level.


Gilles Vigneault is interviewed on the radio by the well-known Radio-Canada radio show host, Catherine Pépin.

In this interview, you will hear and experience the abstract manner of speaking which Vigneault is known to incorporate into his common everyday discussions.

I won’t say any more, other than let’s dive in (I’ll let you discover the conversation as you listen and read along).

Catherine Pépin:

  • 0:11:  J’aimerais vous entendre au sujet de cette chanson parce que on va à bientôt fêter son quarantième anniversaire, le 24 juin prochain. 
  • I would like to hear you talk about the subject of this song because soon, next 24 June, we will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
  • 0:18:  Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé?  Comment est-elle née cette chanson donc, avant le Mont-Royal.  Je crois que c’est parti d’un défis. 
  • What happened.  How was it born exactly, before Mount Royal [on stage in Montréal].  I suspect it was part of a challenge.


  • 0:28:  On s’était réuni Louise, Yvon, et moi-même.  Et puis, on discutait d’un spectacle que Yvon voulait intituler, et a intitulé « Happy Birthday » – ce qui a fait couler pas mal d’encre et de salive ensemble.    
  • Louise [Forestier], Yvon and I  got together.  We then discussed putting on a show which Yvon wanted to call “Happy Birthday” – which caused a lot of ink to be spilled, and tongues to be wagged. 
  • 0:47:  Et, moi j’étais d’accord.  J’ai trouvé ça intéressant comme titre.  Puis là, j’ai dit il faudrait faire une chanson.  On se mettrait à trois, et puis on ferait une chanson dont les gens se serviraient pour décoloniser un petit moment de la vie quotidienne de chacun.  
  • For me, I was for it.  I thought it was an interesting title.  Thus then and there I said that we’d need a song.  The three of us would put our heads together and we’d make a song which people could use to decolonize a little moment of their daily individual lives [decolonize in the sense of erasing another trace of English from their lives by getting rid of the Happy Birthday song which stems from English]. 
  • 1:03:  Ils ont dit, ben, oui.  Yvon a dit  « C’est une bonne idée.  C’est bon, parfait ça.  Commence.  Fais le premier couplet ou quelque chose, trouver un refrain, j’sais pas ».    
  • They said “Yes”.  Yvon said “That’s a good idea, great, perfect.  Go ahead and write the first verse of the song or something, find a chorus or something”.
  • 1:15: J’ai dit « Oui, je vais essayer.  Je vais y penser.  Et puis, la prochaine réunion j’arrive avec quelque chose.  À court, on fera chacun notre couplet, c’est d’accord? ». 
  • I said “Ok, I’ll try.  I’ll think about it, and the next time we meet, I’ll have something in hand.  When together, we’ll each make a verse for it, ok?”
  • 1:26: « Ouais, c’est d’accord.  On fera chacun son couplet ».
  • “Sure, OK.  We’ll each make a verse of it”. 
  • 1:29:  Alors je suis arrivé avec « Gens du pays » et le premier couplet – le refrain.  Ils ont dit le refrain « C’est ça, tu l’as ».  Puis le premier couplet, ben c’est ça, on parle d’amour.  On ne parle pas de guerre.  Tout le monde est inclus, puis la jeunesse est là-dedans. 
  • I came back with “Gens du pays”, the first verse – the chorus.  They said “That’s it, you have it!”   That’s the first verse, yup – we’re talking about love, not about war.  Everyone is included, as well as the youth.
  • 1:48: « Ben, on continue ».  Mais j’ai dit « Non, c’est votre tour.  Vous allez faire chacun votre couplet ». 
  • “Great, let’s continue.”  But I said “No, it’s your turn.  You’re each going to write a verse.”
  • 1:52:  Ils ont dit « Non, non, non, non.  Gilles, t’es bien parti là.  On dira ‘c’est pas bon’ ».   J’ai dit « ben j’espère que vous allez me dire si c’est pas bon.  Honnêtement, c’est correct.  Je continue »   
  • They said “No no no no.  Gilles, you’ve already got a great start.  We’ll tell you if it’s not good”.  I said “Well, I would hope you would tell if it’s not good.  Honestly, it’s fine, I’ll keep going”.
  • 2:07:  Et quand on l’a chanté, ben on a eu la preuve que oui, c’était une bonne idée.   
  • And when we sang it in the end, there we had the proof that yes, it was a good idea.


  • 2:11:  Alors, comment ça s’est passé sur scène car c’est une chose de la voir sur papier, mais ensuite de l’offrir comme ça pour la toute première fois … ? 
  • So, how it it come to be sung on the stage, because it’s one thing to see it on paper, but it’s quite another to present it like that for the first time… ?


  • 2:20:  On ne savait pas où on allait, personne.  Mais Yvon a fait beaucoup pour ça.  Yvon, avec les bras, puis les grimaces, puis les rires.  Il a expliqué ça au monde.  
  • We didn’t know, nobody knew which direction it was going to take.  But Yvon carried it to the end.  Yvon, with his flailing arms, and those looks on his face, and then those laughs!
  • 2:34:  Il m’a dit « Moi, moi, je vais l’expliquer au monde.  Laissez-moi faire ».  Puis, Yvon l’a expliqué au monde, puis il a dit – regardez, on va dire ma tante yvonne – « Ma tante Yvonne, c’est à ton tour, de te laisser parler d’amour.  Vous allez me répéter ça ! ».  Puis il faisait répéter la foule!   
  • He said to me “Me, I’m going to explain it all to the world.  Let me do it.”  And then Yvon explained it to us all, using Auntie Yvonne as a reference – “My Aunt Yvonne, it is your turn, to let yourself talk about love.  Now everyone repeat it back to me!”   And he made the crowd repeat it back!
  • 2:50:  Et la foule l’a repris.  Alors, c’est une chanson qui a atteint son objectif qui allait là, décoloniser un tout petit moment de la vie quotidienne, qui était « Happy birthday to you », ou mal traduit « Bonne fête ma Do ».    
  • And yes, the crowd repeated it.  So you know, the song met its goal, to decolonize a little moment of daily life – that which was “Happy Birthday to You”, or in a bad translation “Happy Birthday Ma Do”. 
  • 3:13:  Et, c’est une chanson qui a remis ensemble beaucoup de gens dans les familles, et qui a contribué à la convivialité.  Et qui continue.  Et ça c’est bien.  Bon.  
  • Likewise, it was a song which brought many people together as families, and which made a contribution to living with one another… One which continues to this day.  That’s a good think it think, yes.


  • 3:26:  Quelque chose très généreux dans la formulation « te laisser, c’est à ton tour de te laisser parler d’amour », c’est très efficace.   Je pense que vous parliez de convivialité.  Moi, j’entendais ça.  Alors, peut-être c’est un peu fou et rétique, mais presque comme une prière.   
  • There is something very generous in the formula of the song :  “to let yourself… It is your turn to let yourself talk about love.”.  That’s very meaningful.  I believe you were speaking about living with one another.  That’s what I also heard.  So perhaps it’s a bit loopy with whims of a rite, almost like a prayer.


  • 3:47:  C’est pas loin d’une prière.  Et le ruisseau d’aujourd’hui s’arrête et forme un étang où chacun peut voir comme en un miroir l’amour qu’il reflète.   On revient toujours à ça.  Pour ces cœurs à qui je souhaite.  Bon, là on voit des jeunes qui nous écoutent et qui vont peut-être s’en servir eux aussi.   
  • It’s not far from being a prayer.  And the stream of the present comes to a halt and forms a pond, where every person may see their love reflected, like in a mirror.  We always come back to that.  This is my wish for everyone’s hearts.  And here, there are young people listening to us who perhaps will view it as such also.
  • 4:09:  Il y a un petit glissement, un petit dérape vers le pays là-dessus.  Mais en même temps, c’est une suggestion.  C’est presque du subliminal.   
  • There is also a small nudge, a little whim pushing for our country also.  But a the same time, it is only a hint or suggestion.  It’s a message which is almost subliminal. 


  • 4:20:  C’est sûr que c’était moins subliminal en ’75, forcément.   
  • I’m more than certain that it was more than subliminal in 1975, surely.


  • 4:23:  Ah oui.  C’était plus clair.  On était en ’75, et tout ça avait l’air de s’en venir.  Comme disait Gaston Miron, « Tant qu’elle n’est pas faite, elle est à faire, l’indépendance. »  
  • Oh yes.  It was surely more clear.   We were in 1975, and everyone for sure thought that it was going to happen.  As Gaston Miron said, “So long as it has not been accomplished, independence is yet to come.”


  • 4:39:  Mais, au moins vous disiez que c’était avant tout une chanson d’amour avant d’être une chanson « engagée » justement.   
  • But, at least you said that first and foremost, it was a song of love before it was a song of “activism”, surely.


  • 4:47:  D’abord, d’abord, d’abord… Ça m’est apparu comme le temps que l’on prend pour dire « Je t’aime ».  Ça commence comme ça.   Puis aux jeunes, on dit « le temps de vivre leurs espoirs ». 
  • Firstly, firstly, firstly… For me it was for the time which we take to say “I love you”.  That’s how it began.  And to young people, we said “for the time for them to live their dreams”.
  • 5:00:  Bon.  J’aurais pu dire « le temps de vivre nos espoirs », parce que ça se peut que « nous » n’ayons pas le temps de vivre nos espoirs.   
  • Well, I could have said “for the time for them to live ‘our’ dreams”, because it is possible that “we” will not have the time to live ours.
  • 5:09:  Mais, si c’est mes enfants et petits-enfants, cela se fait lentement.  Ce sera très bien aussi.   
  • But, if it comes about for my children and grand-children, it would come slowly.  That too would be good.


  • 5:18:  Alors, depuis 40 ans on vous chante j’imagine systématiquement à votre fête « Mon cher Gilles, c’est à ton tour ».  Qu’est-ce que ça vous fait? 
  • Thus, on your birthday for the past 40 years, when others have systematically sung to you “My dear Gilles, it is your turn…”, what does that do to you?


  • 5:29:  Mais, ça me fait sourire.  Ça me fait penser que j’ai eu raison.  Et moi, quand je me souhaitais bon anniversaire à Yvon ou à Louise ou à Claude Fleuri, je prends le téléphone et je dis « Happy birthday to you … », et puis on rigole.   
  • Well, it makes me smile.  It makes me think that I was right.  And for my part, whenever I wished Yvon or Louise or Claude Fleuri a happy birthday, I would phone them and sing “Happy Birthday to you… “, which would make everyone laugh.
  • 5:51:  Bon, il y avait un petit enfant qui avait demandé à sa mère « Qu’est-ce que c’est que les ‘to-you’ ? », parce qu’il avait compris « Ayez pas peur des ‘tooyou’ ».  « Qu’est-ce que c’est que les ‘tooyou’ maman? » 
  • You know, there was a small child who once asked his mother “What are the ‘to-you’?”, because he heard the English song as being “Don’t be afraid of the ‘tooyou’”.  “What’s a tooyou mommy?”.    
  • 6:06:  Puis, moi je n’ai pas peur des « to-you ».  Alors, il faut pas avoir peur des « to-you ».  Il faut les aimer, et de les inviter à la fête.   
  • You know, I’m not afraid of the “tooyou’s”.  So you should not be either.  You should love them, and invite them to your party.


  • 6:15:  Merci beacoup, Gilles Vigneault.  Merci.   
  • Thank-you, Gilles Vigneault.  Thank-you.


  • 6:17:  Je vous en prie.  Merci de m’avoir donné l’occasion de réfléchir un petit peu.   
  • You’re welcome.  Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to look back and reflect a little.

Patrick Huard (#212)

Two nights ago, Xavier Dolan’s film Mommy cleaned house, yet again.  This time it was an arm-full of trophes at Montréwood’s Jutra awards.

The 2nd most important back-up actor in the film was Patrick Huard.

Regarding Montréwood cinéma, we often say if you want to know what film is worth watching (ie: what constitutes a “good” film), then follow the “director”.  Conversely, in Hollywood, more often than not it tends to be the reverse; people in Hollywood say you should follow the “actor” to find the “good” movies.

One major exception to the Québéc/Montréwood rule of following the “director” is in the case of the superstar actor, Patrick Huard.   In Huard’s case, if you follow the actor (just as you would in Hollywood), you are bound to find the best films.

With a few exceptions, if you look at the biggest of the big Montréwood films from the mid 1990s to present, Patrick Huard has held either a leading acting role, or a major back-up role.

I’ve never personally seen Huard walk down the streets in Québec, but I can only imagine he would be pounced upon from all directions by adoring fans looking for autographs.

Some of the more notable, very successful Montréwood films he has appeared in were:

  • Les Boys (1, 2 & 3) – all of which were among the highest grossing, and most viewed films in Canadian history
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop – (Patrick Huard was the main actor)… the highest or second highest grossing film in Canadian history when it came out in 2006
  • Starbuck
  • Mommy
  • Omerta

The above films have gone down in the Montréwood, Québec and Canadian history books.  I think it’s fair to say that so has Patrick Huard.

If you want to hear a half-hour conversation between Patrick Huard and his co-star in Mommy, Anne Dorval, you can hear it on Radio-Canada’s radio program, L’autre jour à la table d’à côté” (“The Other Day at the Table Beside Us…”).  Click HERE for the program on Radio-Canada’s official website.

Check out some of his work… I think you’ll be impressed.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop – ENGLISH TRAILER (the film was 50/50 French-English)

Starbuck – SUBTITLED English Trailer

Omertà – (Also starring Céline Dion’s husband, René Angélil)

Mommy Trailer:

An embarrassing example of the “Two Solitudes” (#197)

Yesterday I wrote this post in a different format.  But after sleeping on it for a few hours, I realized the way I originally wrote it was not fair to Toronto, or its people as a whole.  The comments the post received were in agreement with what I initially wrote, but that doesn’t mean that how I wrote it was the right.   If anything, the way I initially wrote the post shows how emotional an issue this subject can be (if I became emotional about it sitting here in Toronto, that can give you an idea of how it might be going over with many people in Québec).

I’m backtracking and I’m re-writing a good chunk of the post.  Here is the re-written format…


This post is going touch upon a sensitive subject which occurs often enough… so I’m going to raise the issue again.  It’s something more people should be aware of (especially in media circles).

Yesterday were the Canadian Screen Awards organized by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.  (Website: http://www.academy.ca/About-the-Academy).

In a nutshell, these awards could be considered the Canadian equivalent of the U.S.A.’s Oscars.

It’s a huge event.  It is wider in scope than the Oscars/Academy awards because it grants awards to both Canada’s movie and television industries in one fell swoop.   It is not a Francophone award ceremony, nor is it an Anglophone award ceremony.   The Canadian Screen Awards simply awards the best of the best in Canada, regardless of whether or not the recipients are Francophone or Anglophone.

The awards are held here in Toronto every year, and thus they are presented in English, in an English dominant environment (that of Toronto).   They are supposed to be an all-inclusive ceremony.

But what happened yesterday really drives home the notion of the Two Solitudes.  Frankly, it’s embarrassing – and it has garnered a lot of attention today in Québec.

Here is what happened.

Mommy is one of the most successful Canadian movies of the past 20 years, and one of the most successful movies in Canadian history – full stop.   After winning countless awards abroad over the past 10 months, Mommy finally had the opportunity yesterday to receive Canadian awards on home turf (apart from the Jutras which were held not long ago).   In Québec, over the last several days, there was much excitement, suspense and publicity in the run-up to yesterday’s awards in Toronto.

The movie, Mommy, is the creation of Xavier Dolan.  It is considered a Québec film (abroad it is often held up as a Canadian film), it was created in French, and was released in May, 2014.  Between May and now, Mommy basically won the prize for the “best film in the world” (for lack of a better term) at the Cannes Film Festival (the world’s most prestigious and well-known international film festival).  It also won many of the world’s other most prestigious film awards.

But here’s the crunch:  Yesterday Xavier Dolan and the film’s actors – who have been cheered and treated like super stars around the globe – showed up at the festival in Toronto, and guess what happened:    Unless they were wearing name tags, many people at the event didn’t know who they were, including those who were there to cover the event as media.

Because the event was broadcast live in Québec, the awkward treatment the film’s creator and cast received at the gala did not go over very well with influential individuals in Québec or members of the public.  A good number of people were hurt, angry, disappointed, and left confused.

Just to give you the context of how embarrassing this is, earlier this year, at the Cannes Festival  (attended by all of Hollywood and the who’s who of international film), Dolan and those who worked on Mommy were given an 8-minute standing ovation – yes… applause and cheers for a whole 8 minutes – by the biggest names in world of film.  Even the elite of the American media industry attended, stood and applauded for 8 minutes straight (Oprah, Spielberg, Brad Pitt, you name it, the list goes on).  This sort of accolade has never been given to a Canadian (or almost any other) film.

What happened last night when they won here in Toronto?  Polite, timid (and awkward) applause from the seated audience who generally did not know who they were.

I’m dumbfounded.

I’m still trying to make sense of it all.

Last fall, I watched Mommy in the theatres here in Toronto, and it was packed (it was playing in regular theatres).  Thus, what happened last night also took me off guard, as much as it did people in Québec.

I don’t want to bash the gala event, and I don’t want to bash Toronto either (after all, I love Toronto, its people, the vibe, its immigrants, immigrant communities and cosmopolitan nature.  I love its freshness).   But I am so embarrassed today by what happened at the awards ceremony.

I’m also quite embarrassed for the guests of the gala, because something like this could have been avoided.  What happened yesterday occurred at one event (it was not a city-wide occurrence – and I’m not sure the expectation should have been that it was a city-wide event).  Therefore, it could have been better contained with preventative management, and a bit of event-specific “education”.

It’s a sort of ignorance that is seen often enough at events like this, or though Toronto’s “national” media when covering matters which cross the linguistic lines   Yes, I see it in Toronto, but I have also seen it elsewhere in the country, AND I see also see it in reverse, in Francophone media, Francophone events and Francophone society.  It’s a two-way street.

However, the burden falls much heavier on Toronto’s media shoulder, more so than any other media in the country – precisely because Toronto’s media is Canada’s national English-language media epicentre. That’s a heavy burden for any city to have to carry.  But because Toronto’s media has this burden, they need to step up to the plate more so than elsewhere.  That does not only pertain to presenters on the screen, but also to local behind-the-screen support staff such as camera operators, researchers, and those who decide what to cover and how to cover it.  These people tend to be important in deciding who and what makes it on the screen, and how those subjects are portrayed to the public (ie: if a camera operator walks by the biggest star of an event because they don’t know who that person is, then that simple action has huge implications, as we saw last night).   It should be recognized that the support and technical staff are more apt to be hired from the general public in Toronto, and may not have had much interaction with Canada’s Francophone culture (or other aspects of Canadian culture outside Toronto).  Therefore there needs to be more education within those circles, or we’ll see more things occur like what happened at the gala awards.

The implications of this type of ignorance can be significant when such ignorance is broadcast into people’s homes, and when common people feel they have been slighted (the awards yesterday in Toronto were being followed live in Québec by a good deal of influential people – and thus the ignorance shown at the gala event spread like wildfire – the point that it made headline news in Québec).

I suppose it not only shows a that a much better effort could have been made on the part of the awards’ organizers to ensure that the event’s audience, staff and media were better informed regarding who was being invited (simple things like “promoting” the contents of the evening’s program and nominees), but it also serves to highlight that segments of society (and hence the media) need to be better informed about culturally significant matters across our French/English linguistic lines.

But every cloud has its silver lining – and here is this story’s silver lining:  Canada’s Anglophone media is very heavily concentrated in Toronto (that’s why we often hear the expression “Toronto-centric media”)   Because there is a very wide range of people working in Toronto’s media industry with very diverse personal backgrounds, it cannot be expected that everyone will be aware of culturally significant matters in Québec, matters across the linguistic divide, or elsewhere in Ontario or Canada (not everyone in Toronto’s media industry speaks French, or went through immersion, or has travelled, or has lived in Canada long enough to understand all of Canada’s cultural nuances – and that’s ok and normal — because people are people).   But this poses an amazing opportunity on a “national” level.  Because Canada’s “national” Anglophone media is so concentrated in one city – Toronto — it should not be very difficult to educate those who work in Canada’s national media – at least much more efficiently and effectively, than say, if our “national” media were spread across several cities (like it is in the US, with NY being one hub, LA another, and Atlanta another with CNN).

Therefore, if by chance, there are people working in the media who are not sensitive to what is going on beyond a 100km radius (even within Ontario), it is a situation which can, in theory, be addressed and corrected.

Here are a few of the dangers if things do not change:  (especially on the media front or regarding highly mediatized events):  Anglophone Canada’s media is watched and criticised in Québec (I would venture to say that Anglophone media is more visible in Québec than what Francophone’s media is outside Québec).  If the sort of ignorance we saw at the awards ceremony is not addressed, and that sort of ignorance is consistently conveyed by Anglophone Canada’s media, then there is a risk that all of Anglophone Canada will be labelled as being just as ignorant — and that’s precisely what happened yesterday evening at the awards ceremony, and it is continuing to play itself out today.  There are political implications to it.  People in the sovereignist camp in Québec has been tossing this one around like a hot-potato all day – they’re really running to town with it — and it is in their interest to see that the issue remains front-and-centre.  These types of things make an emotional impact, and emotions translate into how people vote.  It’s an issue.

This morning, the Radio-Canada (CBC French) headline in Québec was “Xavier Dolan feels the Two Solitudes at the Canadian Screen Awards”.  (The headlines should have been about the awards Mommy won at the gala).

Last night in Montréal, Xavier Dolan was interviewed on television on 24/60 byAnne-Marie Dussealt.   The interview devoted a significant segment to his reaction of what just happened in Toronto.  Dussealt is the Québec equivalent of Larry King (and 24/60 would be the equivalent of Larry King Live).   However, she’s probably a bit more like Piers Morgan because her own social & political views come across much more than what Larry King’s did.

She asked him what it was like to receive an award in Toronto.   Click HERE for the link to Radio-Canada’s article and the interview video on their official website.

Below, at the end of this post, I’m providing you with a translation of Dolan’s response to Dussault’s questions (it begins at 2:40 minutes, and ends at 7:50 minutes).

I have to admit, when Radio-Canada first published the article, they did not post the video, and they only quoted sound-bites.  The initial article was less-than-flattering (it left far too much to innuendo – and it went viral).   Comments flooded in over the course of the day, and now people are talking about this on the streets in Québec.   It’s not good.

Fortunately, Radio-Canada posted the video clip later in the day, and what Dolan actually said was much more nuanced than what the article first lead people to believe.   But unfortunately, damage has been done, and we’re now all painted as being completely ignorant in English Canada, and out of touch with reality or anything in Québec for that matter.

Likewise, I’m not sure that many people in Québec have the nuanced context to be able to distinguish sectors of Toronto’s media industry from the rest of ordinary people in English Canada (Toronto’s media industry is far too often is held up as being “representative” of Canada).

In this case, I truly believe it boils down to a question of Two Solitudes between “Québec & Toronto’s media industry” rather than “Québec and English Canada”.

Big sigh – truly.   Hopefully our mayor (of Toronto), John Tory, will jump in to say that what happened last night is not representative of most people in our city or of our country.   At least I hope he will.


Question — Anne-Marie Dusseault:  What does it represent to you for your film to have had this sort of presence in Toronto?  What does this sort of recognition represent?  The Jutra awards are around the corner, I’m not sure if there is a hierarchy it.  There were the Caesars.  But what does your presence in Toronto represent?  Especially since I would say that it’s in a very particular universe for you.  

Answer — Dolan:  It’s a universe which is quite specific.  It’s one of English Canadian stardom.  Thus it has more to do with stars from English Canadian television.   I would venture to say that it’s owing more to this than the Gala groups together for both television and movies.

It’s rather strange because we arrived there on the red carpet.  And we were standing there on the red carpet.  And you know, despite all the euphoria going on around us – after all it was a ceremony like any other and we were happy that our work was noticed, appreciated by peers, highlighted… even if we didn’t win and were just nominated, regardless if it’s here, in France, or elsewhere… the effect is the same – we are always honoured that our work is recognized.

But in Toronto, we arrived on the red carpet, and without our name tags, the cards which actually had our names and who we were… the photographers were completely… you know…

Dusseault:  …lost !

Dolan:  … completely lost.  They had absolutely no idea who we were – which, without being pretentious, is rather peculiar.  You know, if you think about it, the film garnered a fair amount of good international success.  And… you know, one would like to think that Mommy is considered part of the…  … I consider that Mommy is part of Canadian films, as much as it Québécois.  In that sense, it represented Québec and Canada in all those foreign festivals, ceremonies, gala award events where it was nominated – that sort of thing.

But it’s still rather particular that we were presenting it in a universe where all the stars of English Canadian television …

Dusseault:  … don’t know who you are.  You’re a complete unknown to them.

Dolan:  It’s to say that the industry… those in the artistic community who sawMommy, they came up to us and they were proud of Mommy.   But apart from that, we could see we were in a world surrounded by a very specific English Canadian journalistic and photography corps which is… well, it’s now a cliché to say it, but it’s still an expression which aptly describes the situation – theTWO SOLITUDES.

I find it rather baffling and curious.  If you think about it, it’s really quite strange, because the gala started with a sort of “ode” to Canadian cinematography, in all its splendour and richness.  But we felt the estrangement… well, no, not estrangement, but rather… hmmm… perhaps “ignorance” towards Québec cinema in the overall picture of things.

Question — Dusseault:  I was kind of wondering this.  Right up to the last minute, we were not sure if you were going to be in Toronto, if you had the time to get there.   Did this make you ask yourself “What am I even doing here? What’s the point of being here?”… Right?

Answer — Dolan:  No, I didn’t ask myself “What am I doing here?” becauseMommy was a film financed by Telefilm Canada.  Factually speaking, let’s be honest;  it’s a film which was made in Canada and it’s a Canadian film.  Let’s not deviate from that, regardless of people’s political allegiances.  It was made within a certain artistic context – political also.   And I’m happy that theCanadian Industry Awards have recognized our work.  After all, it’s our peers who vote for who wins.   So in that sense, I don’t ask myself what’s the point of being there.  I’m happy we were there.   I’m of course happy that Anne was there, and that all the actors were there.

But the atmosphere, all-in-all, reveals… I have to say, a gulf between the two cultures, which would otherwise stand to gain if they were to learn from each other.

You know, I read the newspapers this morning.  English Canadian journalists, who were covering the ceremonies, made the point of saying that each year it is the same thing for them – that there will always be “one” Québécois film, without ever knowing what it will be, which will always triumph above the rest.  Then it will simply sweep all the prizes, and it will always irritate them.   But they still acknowledge it, and they write it.

So in that sense, the whole thing is just so interesting to watch itself play out, and to see the journalists talk about this.

Dusseault:  It is rather interesting to watch itself play out.  Yesterday I was following it on Twitter, and then I’d switch back-and-forth to CBC, and the awards were always making way for “English Canadian Television”.

Dolan:  In that sense, I’m not going to criticize them, because I understand their logic.  I get the impression that if they group together movies and television, it’s because in English Canada, what English Canadians know better than anything else in their own world are the stars of their television – those on CBC, CTV, on their national TV shows.   In a sense, it’s by formatting it this way that the gala event would make English Canadians want to tune in to it.   If they were to only celebrate English Canadian cinema (versus television), I’m not sure the gala event would attract many viewers.   Movies and television were separated in the past, and from what I understand, it didn’t work very well in that format.

GND does it again – (#168)

A number of posts ago, I wrote a post on Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (GND), in which I described his place in Québec’s recent history.

You can read that post by clicking HERE.

If we’re going to look at things that can help bridge the Two Solitudes, you might as well know about the types of things people are talking about in Québec, be it during coffee breaks at work, between neighbours across the fence, or in other contexts.   If for nothing else, you can take this as a satirical and comical post — but there actually is a serious side to it which truly is not funny at all.

You may recall that I mentioned that everyone is left wondering where Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois will pop up next.  Well, he just popped up again – in the the last few hours, and in the most unlikely of places… on a children’s television program!  And what’s he doing?  Seemingly offering a course to 5, 6, and 7 year old children on what we could probably dub “Street Protests 101”.

What I came across here is just too good to not devote a separate post to it.   I don’t know what in the world Télé-Québec was thinking when they decided to air this program (province wide and across Canada).   This is just waaaaay too mature of subject matter for children that age.

You can watch the entire program online at Télé-Québec’s website here: http://zonevideo.telequebec.tv/media/19468/dis-moi-tout-gabriel-nadeau-dubois/dis-moi-tout

The children learned

  • what kind of spoon is best to use when banging pots while marching and protesting through the streets (we learned we need to use a wooden spoon instead of a metal one),
  • how tear gas reacts when it gets into your eyes and what to do (every pre-adolescent child and kindergarten student apparently needs to know this when bad policeman hose them down with pepper-spray for going on a rampage)
  • how to start a new, fun tongue-twister fad on the school yard using GND’s name (Can you say Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois 10 times really really fast?  All the kids are doing it now!  It’s the new black on the swing set!  Serious folks, this was in the show – I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried)
  • GND told all the little darlings that his parents didn’t make the right decisions when choosing what school to send him to (that ought to make the kiddies stand up for their rights when their parents tell them what to do),
  • that their parents might be proud of them if they hit the streets during protests (hey little buddy… you now have an alternative course of action when mommy tells you to eat all your peas and you don’t want to),
  • how to best affix a carré rouge (red square badge of solidarity) to their clothes (because kids love to wear things… but pins can be sharp),
  • that they can “change the world” by making demands (and some of these sweet little kiddies, right on the program, jumped on the band wagon and came up with a class-room list of demands! “Les revendications des enfants”),
  • the kiddies all agreed on air that Mr. GND would make a good premier (I mean, why settle for simple role-model when you can shoot for the top spot?),
  • kids will get what they want if they gang up together in massive groups.   (Just great!  Absolutely wonderful!  Any authority figures might as well hang up their hats now and retire – or hide).

And to top it all off, guess what art was displayed as a backdrop in the studio?  “Fists in the air”.  Les poings en l’air (take from that what you will).

What an amazingly great format for an early-age extreme activism training boot camp children’s program!   All I can say is I’m so happy I’m not the school playground supervisor watching over the children after they returned to school from having sat in the audience of this show.

I’m not sure whether I should laugh or be horrified.  One thing I will tell you, even if it’s Halloween, after knowing the little ones have been watching this, I for one will run in the opposite direction if I see a group of little critters wearing balaclavas and playing cops and robbers… er… cops and protesters… er… “pots and spoons”.

Oh, and by the way – for all the news and political junkies out there… the new date to mark on your calendar is 21 March, 2015.   That’s the day the student association “Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ)” wants to organize a protest against government cutbacks.  It remains to be seen what, if any involvement GND will have.  Here’s a write-up on the ASSÉ “plans” http://a.msn.com/01/fr-ca/AA8Ntb4

Maybe Big Bird will make a star appearance in the crowds too.