Indie Focus 2019: The Local Power of Quebecois Independent Cinema

Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre 
Date: 2019.08.01 - 2019.08.04
Time: 1st - 2nd Aug 2019 7:30 pm; 3rd Aug 2019 2:30 pm & 7:30pm; 4th Aug 2019 2:30 pm, 5:00pm, 8:00pm  
Price: $85, $68* (Senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students, Club YEC and Fleurs des lettres subscribers*) 
Presented By: Ying E Chi
 
 
Hong Kong Independent Film Festival is introducing another Indie Focus programme this year to shed light on some independent francophone films from Quebec, bringing a comprehensive view of Quebecois independent cinema to Hong Kong audiences for the first time. Our programme includes eleven classic Quebecois films and screenings will be held at Hong Kong Art Centre and Hong Kong Film Archive. In addition, we are inviting film critics, both local and from abroad, to host two sessions of seminars on Quebecois cinema. Our guests include former president of the Quebecois Film Critics Society, Claire Valade, president of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University, Professor Peter Rist, and Canadian film critic based in Hong Kong, Elisabeth Kerr. A selection of films most representative of Quebecois cinema will also be screened before the festival. We hope to build up Hong Kong audiences' knowledge in Quebecois cinema fromhkindieff@gmail.com scratch through various forms of events.
 
 

The Old Country Where Rimbaud Died (Indie Focus 2019)

1st August 2019 (Thu) 7:30pm
113mins IIA
 

The low-profile Jean Pierre Lefebvre has little to say to the English-speaking Canadians yet he has strong messages for his fellow Quebecois. In the second film of his “Abel Saga,” the 40-year-old Abel travels to his ancestor’s country—France—in hopes to find his roots. With his noticeable accent, he can’t help but realise that he is a stranger in a foreign land. His encounters with a street painter, a taxi driver and a flower girl have dispelled any idealistic notions he previously held for the country. Then he visits his friend Jeanne, a lonely single mother. When Jeanne’s mother commits suicide, he follows Jeanie back to her hometown, which is the birthplace of poet Rimbaud. The scenery once painted by Paul Cézanne feels so close yet so far. The unspeakable void of his ill-fated search for a “home” illustrates the sense of insecurity for post-October Crisis Quebec. The clear-minded Lefebvre laments the so-called independent spirit is possibly just another way to indulge in one’s own colonial fantasy.

Jean Pierre Lefebvre

In French with English subtitles

Drama

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Good Riddance (Indie Focus 2019)

2nd August 2019 (Fri) 7:30pm

114 mins IIB

As the liberals assume power, Quebec is gradually ridding of its conservative mindset - without society in general getting ready for it. While the ailments of liberalism are commonplace, one may doubt if the riddance of conservatism is really that good. Also filmed by auteur Michel Brault, this tale chronicles the lives of the members of an impoverished small-town family – the sensitive and precocious thirteen-year-old Manon, her mother Michelle and her intellectually disabled uncle Ti-Guy. Manon plays hooky from school, rejects the old cop Maurice who courts her mother, despises status, refuses the system and refuses to be one of those ignored or pitied by it; unbeknownst to her, she replaces the absent father-figure in her life with her own volatile and defiant disposition. As excessive drinker Ti-Guy quietly covets his family's wealthy female neighbour, Manon takes up the role of the man in the family as she plays a part in letting things happen for her uncle – for a night and that night only, and severs the relations between her mother and her mother’s suitor. Knowing better about the harsh realities of life then the grown-ups around her, when Manon can finally sleep with her mother and have her love, she decides to take control and build a world of her own as she listens to the clock ticking, though life ahead may by ever more daunting.Restored version in 2013 will be presented in this screening.

 

Francis Mankiewicz

In French with English subtitles

Drama, Family

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Comfort And Indifference (Indie Focus 2019)

3rd August 2019 (Sat) 2:30pm

109 mins I

It was a matter of yes or no for Quebecois facing the independence referendum in 1980. In the year leading to this pivotal vote, the public engaged in what seemed to be endless and passionate discourse. Filmmaker Denys Arcand utilizes a huge amount of news footage and interviewed concerned citizens in an attempt to analyze this historic moment from an artist’s independent perspective. The documentary opens with an actor in the role of Machiavelli, who is transported from the Florentine Republic of the Renaissance period to a high-rise in 1980s Quebec. With Machiavelli reading (in French) straight from The Prince and The Discourses on Livy, the director is making a statement on the mechanisms responsible for the results of the historic referendum in 1980. The politicians’ use of deceit to manipulate Quebecois’ malaise, democratic debates turning into entertainment, and the oversimplification of statistical analyses are presented by the film as contributing factors to the people’s comfort and indifference.

Denys Arcand

In French, English with English subtitles

Documentary

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Jesus Of Montreal (Indie Focus 2019)

3rd August 2019 (Sat) 7:30pm

119 mins IIB

Denys Arcand’s film serves as a post-modern discourse on traditional Catholic ideology in Quebec. Like Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, this 1989 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner emphasises on the humanity of Jesus while subverting the established depictions of his life story. The film challenges not only the religious authority, but also the mass media and consumer culture. The story begins with a church’s annual Passion play, which is led by a young artist who plays Jesus this year. His refreshing use of real-life downcast characters in the play is well received, one of them was played by the director Robert Lepage. However, life imitates art when his story follows the path of the biblical figure he portrays. The film draws parallels to actual biblical scenes - such as an audition is akin to the corrupted temple and an attorney’s offer is like a test from Satan. The retelling of biblical tales in 1980s Quebec seamlessly merges mythology with reality. Its authenticity has the power to convert one to be a believer.

Denys Arcand

In French, English and Italian with English subtitles

Drama

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Orderers (Indie Focus 2019)

4th August 2019 (Sun) 2:30pm

107 mins IIA

A Kafkaesque trial happened in one night. In 1970, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau enforced the War Measure Act as a response to the October Crisis, in which the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) was responsible for two instances of political kidnapping. Under the declaration of the unyielding Canadian government, the military locked down the city while police arrested over 450 people without charges or warrants. Michel Brault interviewed 50 of them to create a chronicle of their experiences during those 21 days of incarceration. The black-and-white images of before and after incarceration contrast sharply with those prison scenes in color. A strong atmosphere of bleakness runs through the whole film, depicting a generation under political suppression and a democratic system crumpling from within. A testament to a painful chapter in Canadian history, Brault’s film won him the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1975. Hailed as the first masterpiece of Quebecois cinema, Orderers will be presented in the digitally restored version that was first shown in Cannes 2015.
 

Michel Brault

In French, English with English subtitles

Dodu-drama, History

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October (Indie Focus 2019)

4th August 2019 (Sun) 5:00pm

98 mins IIB

Sovereigntist director Pierre Falardeau’s controversial film focuses on the Chénier Cell of Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). None of the cell’s four members are portrayed as natural born criminals by Quebec’s most subversive filmmaker. Their sovereignty movement leads them to kidnap Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. The situation escalates rapidly within a week as the Canadian government enforces War Measures Act (see Orderers). Hence the cell members take a leap from civil disobedience to the fringes of political criminality. Ironically, three of them furiously try to save a bloodied Laporte. Falardeau is not interested in retelling the whole truth from all possible perspectives. His lens tightly follows the four cell members and their captive, as they listen to the radio in hopes of a negotiation outcome. Yet together they fall into a pit of helplessness and hopelessness. Since there was strong opposition against the film’s political position, investors had backed away in the process that delayed the film 10 years before its release. Still, Falardeau’s completed a great film with a strong sense of responsibility for the murderous crime.

Michel Brault

In French with English subtitles

Drama

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Polytechnique (Indie Focus 2019)

4th August 2019 (Sun) 8:00pm

82mins IIB

Valérie is an engineering student who is doubted by her interviewer because a woman is supposedly going to end up being married with children. During class, a gunman barges in and orders all the men to leave. Fellow student Jean-François fails to stay behind as his attempt to rescue the victims goes nowhere. Polytechnique is based on the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, in which 14 female engineering students were killed by a misogynist gunman. Director Denis Villeneuve made this independent film with strong Quebecois roots before establishing himself as an acclaimed Hollywood filmmaker. His debut feature offers a piece of the puzzle that tells the story of a somber Quebecois society in the 1990s. Since the film was released only 20 years after the real-life tragedy, the director deliberately omitted the killer’s name and the social commentary in the aftermath. The use of black-and-white cinematography creates a certain distance from the specific event, allowing viewers to relate it to the numerous mass shootings in recent years.

Denis Villeneuve

In French with English subtitles

Drama, Crime, History

 

Programme Enquiries: 852 2836 6282 / hkindieff@gmail.com
 
Ticketing: www.urbtix.hk
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