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Free online films from the National Film Board (#109)
The “National Film Board of Canada” (l’Office national du film du Canada) is a federal arm length agency which produces films of various lengths.
If you’ve driven through Montréal on the 40, you may have seen their national headquarters alongside the freeway. They also have offices around the country (you’ve likely seen their offices on 104th in Edmonton, or in other cities around the country such as Toronto and Vancouver).
Of the thousands of films they have produced, they’ve also won thousands of awards, including 12 Academy awards.
Some of their films are now Canadian and Québec classics, instantly recognizable across Canada. Examples are The Sweater by Roch Carrier and The Log Driver’s Waltz by John Weldon.
The NFB / ONF has a great website, as well an APP you can download for your iOS or Android device. They include dozens and dozens of free films in an array of categories: classics, history, documentaries, and other ways Canadians have viewed themselves and the world throughout the last several decades.
There are good number of films from Québec, subtitled in English, which provides perspectives from that angle (including some films from the pre-Quiet Revolution era and during the Quiet Revolution). It’s a good way to get a little more acquainted with episodes in our history by viewing life, rather than just reading about it.
The website address is here: https://www.nfb.ca/
- Under “Films” at the top, click “Channels” to gain access to all the categories
- Under “Films” at the top, click “Explore” to gain access to the entire online film directory.
- You can toggle between French and English at the top if you want to switch languages. This will change the narration language for many of the films.
The Wikipedia article about the NFB can be read by clicking HERE.
Have a look around the site. It will give you hours of entertainment. You’ll likely run into a good number of things about our history that you likely didn’t know before, both on Anglophone life and history, Francophone life and history – as well things we definitely share in common. It’s a great way to gain an additional perspective.
Enjoy your trip through our history and culture!
If you’re a movie lover, this travelling festival is for you (#108)
If you’re within a day drive from Montréal, or if you want to fly in for 3 or 4 days, here is an event which you might want to take in…
“Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois” is an annual film festival which will present hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Québecois and Montréwood films, all within 10 short days (a mix of long and short films). This year’s Rendez-vous will be held from 19 to 28 of February, 2015 in the Quartier des spectacles / Quartier Latin district of Montréal (East of downtown).
They haven’t yet come out with what movies will be shown (we will have to wait until February 4th), but last year 300 films were shown, of which 100 were premiers. That’s a lot of movies for just 10 days.
The festival’s official website is found here: http://www.rvcq.com/festival-32e
But there’s a reason why I’m bringing this up so early…
There is a “travelling film” component to the festival, in which they take the movies on the road across Canada – and they may be in a city close to you in the very near future.
In the run-up to the festival in Montréal, movies will be show between now and February in
- Prince Edward Island (Click here for the movies & info): http://www.rvcq.com/tournee-2015/itineraires/orleans
Unfortunately, apart from Prince Edward Island, the dates have yet to be announced (the festival already passed through a number of other cities in the last few months). Dates seem to be announced approximately one week in advance. When dates are announced, they’re listed here: http://www.rvcq.com/tournee-2015/itineraires/ottawa
But this is one more reason to check in with the local Francophone association or assembly of your province. See if they might have dates, not only for these films, but for any others being shown in your part of the country.
Another tid-bit of info: It looks like two movies already talked about in earlier blogs, 1987, and Gabrielle are among the line being shown in the run-up to the festival in February.
All said and done, even if you cannot physically make it to the festival, this still gives you an idea just how many Montréwood movies are out there each year. Don’t be afraid to push your French and purchase some online viewings through streaming venues. Even if your French isn’t up to par, many movies come with English subtitles.
Gabrielle – The movie (#105)
This post will tie a few different things together from earlier posts – namely some of the warmest and best values Francophone and Anglophone Canada share together (I touched upon some of those common values in other posts, but notably in the post Some Thoughts on Common Values). It also serves to emphasize just how open and accepting a society Québec is, full of people of who really value looking after each other.
I’m purposely writing this post very soon after writing the Sugar Sammy post because I want there to be no doubt that, regardless if there are the odd-flare ups of language politics, and regardless of various political views, at the level where things matter most – the person-to-person level – people really do care for each other (the fact that so many people want to overcome acrimony and to to see Sugar Sammy’s performances — taking the opportunity to find humour in our differences — really is a great thing).
Perhaps the fact that we generally do care very much about our fellow citizens is why politics can sometimes get so heated. People care about their society to such an extent that it can become emotional. But that caring generally always translates into looking out for your fellow citizen (regardless of your political stripes – Left, Centre, Right, Sovereignist, Federalist – this is where political lines don’t matter). This is one of the things I love the most about Canada, about Anglophones, about Francophones, and about things we see happening on the ground every day in every province.
Gabrielle is a Montréwood movie which garnered a fair amount of attention in 2013. In a nutshell, it’s about a woman, Gabrielle, (played by Gabrielle Marion-Rivard) who has “Williams syndrome”. Williams syndrome is a nervous and developmental disorder which affects facial features, the way someone talks, and the way someone relates to the world. Thus, in a physical and audio sense, it’s noticeable. In the movie, Gabrielle is in a choir for disabled people, and she and enters into a romantic relationship with a fellow choirmate. It’s a touching movie about bridging gaps which many people may stereotypically think cannot (or perhaps should not) be bridged. It brings into play notions of inclusiveness, our own society’s views on how we care for others (I say “our” and “we” because this film really transcends value lines we have commonly developed in Canada as Anglophones and Francophones) — and it makes us think about ourselves.
I think what really brings this movie home is the fact that the main actress, Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, actually has Williams syndrome in real life. She brings you face to face with realities certain individuals are facing across the country every day.
Gabrielle Marion-Rivard really is a sweetheart. What an amazing lady. I’m sure you’ll be able to find footage of her online.
My hat goes off to her and everyone who made this touching film. The film was Canada’s 2014 entry at the Oscars and Gabrielle Marion-Rivard won the best actress award at the Canadian Screen Awards. This movie is an example of us at our best. See if you can find it and have a look.
Viewing it in French might be a great way to help realize just how much Anglophones and Francophones share in common (I’m sure you’ll be able to find a subtitled version of it if needed).
Please stick to official sites and do not pirate (our artists, and their best efforts are part of our cultural heritage).
Bon Cop, Bad Cop (#99)
This is one of the few movies this has crossed linguistic lines across Canada, with both Anglophone and Francophone target audiences. “Good Cop, Bad Cop” (2006), is a French / English bilingual movie – in which one co-actor speaks French, and the other co-actor speaks English. It also happened to be one of the highest grossing box-office movies in the history of Montréwood and Canadian cinema.
The plot itself is intriguing – a murder which occurred right on the Ontario-Québec border, therefore involving both provincial police forces (the Ontario Provincial Police [OPP] and the Sureté du Québec). In order to keep the Federal RCMP out of the case, both the OPP and Sureté du Québec lead investigators were forced to work together to solve the crime. By doing so, they’d be able to secure a larger budget for their respective police forces.
But it’s not difficult to dig up many nuances from the days of the old Two Solitudes, the movie’s humour was based on stereotypes – and both co-actors brought such issues to the forefront. The movie basically made Canadians (both Anglophones and Francophones alike) laugh at themselves, and the ridiculousness of how some people can get so hung up over nothing.
The main characters were played by Patrick Huard and Colm Feore. Huard is a well-known Francophone actor who grew up in Montréal, and Feore grew up in Southern Ontario and has held many acting roles in Canada and Hollywood (some of them in major productions, such as Pearl Harbour and The Sum of All Fears). They spoke their respective languages in the film, but the movie was subtitled into both French and English for unilingual Canadians.
The French Wikipedia article is much better than the English one. The article is here (it offers more information on the plot, the French vs English jokes in the movies, and other backgrounders) : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Cop,_Bad_Cop.
This movie did very well considering Canada struggles to get Anglophones to come to the box-office for home-grown films (competition from Hollywood is just too strong). In the end, it shows that there is an appetite for this type of movie, across both linguistic lines. It baffles me that we’re not seeing more bilingual movies – or movies that venture more into this type of realm – especially when there’s obviously money to be had.
The interest alone that this movie generated showed that the concept of The Two Solitudes is slowly coming down. There’s absolutely no way this movie would have been nearly as successful if it came out in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. It goes to show that the public’s political views are changing, that people are finally able to laugh at themselves and not take themselves too seriously, and that hang-ups around the old Two Solitudes are viewed as rediculous subjects of humour rather than the older flash points of tension (on both sides of the linguistic lines). People want to see the type of interactions we saw here, and they proved it by opening their wallets.
Hopefully more writers, producers and directors make more movies like this. Eric Canuel (Director) and Kevin (Tierney) tested the terrain of how far the lines of political correctness could be pushed – and they showed to a good number of people that time have changed, that they continue to change, and it can be done. Not only that, they showed when it’s done well, it makes money. In the end, good on them!
Some big-name directors and producers who still in live the “old school” of decades past likely wouldn’t want to go there (perhaps it wouldn’t fit their “personalities” – I’ll just leave it there). But there’s no point in trying to turn a horse into a cow. The rest of the world continues to march forward, regardless. It would be great to see a younger generation take up the torch – one which is a bit more in touch with the the realities of today’s under-30s & under-40s. Who knows – perhaps we’ll see Xavier Dolan take a crack at a cross-cultural movie like this – you never know, he just might.
Antoine Olivier Pilon (#96)
Occasionally in pop-culture, a force of nature comes along – someone who achieves so much fame, so quickly, that you would think they could not possibly achieve much more. But I have a feeling that Antoine Olivier Pilon will beat these odds. Born in 1997, he started out as a child actor at 12 years old. At the ages of 13, 14, and 15 he continued to receive various roles on television and movies. But a brief chain of events in 2013 changed his life forever. He now is not only one of the best known faces in Québec and Canada, but also to movie audiences around the world.
In 2013, his name became intertwined with two huge names: Indochine (one of France’s most popular and culturally significant music groups), and Xavier Dolan, one of Québec’s and Canada’s most critically award-winning movie writers and directors.
Pilon starred in Indochine’s controversial music video “College Boy” in 2013. The music video was directed by Xavier Dolan. It was a statement against bullying, but was filmed using such a controversial portrayal of violence that it came with age-restriction caveats. Nonetheless, not only was his likeness linked to Indochine, it also associated him with works directed by Xavier Dolan, which would forever change his life and career.
The next big one, as the co-star of Xavier Dolan’s movie “Mommy”, would launch him into the international spotlight (the previous post on “Mommy” can be viewed HERE).
At 17 years old and with several “best” category awards under his belt, Pilon has become an international heart-throb; instantly recognizable on the streets in Canada and France, as well as elsewhere.
Currently, he is a co-star in one of Montréwood’s hottest weekly TV drama series, Mémoires vives, on ICI Radio-Canada (1,165,000 weekly viewers), as well as one of the main characters in the youth television program Subito texto, on Télé-Québec.
Considering the major roles he has garnered, as well as the degree of acclaim, success and awards he has achieved, decades of endless possibilities lie ahead of him. I think we’re seeing more than just a star in the making (he’s already achieved the status of a start) – but rather the potential to be a future cultural icon. Antoine Olivier Pilon is someone I believe we’ll be seeing a lot of.
When looking for clips of his work, please stick to official sites and do not pirate. Our artists form part of our cultural fabric.