The 24th edition of the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie (RVF) is putting the spotlight on traditions, which are so crucial for building bridges between generations, cultures and communities. This all-embracing theme has inspired the NFB in creating this selection of 35 documentary and animated films—all available free of charge—for its 17th consecutive year at the RVF.
This short documentary chronicles the participation of Edmonton’s Chorale Saint-Jean in the festivities organized for Quebec City’s 400th anniversary. The film is interspersed with interviews with conductor Laurier Fagnan, lyricist-composer France Levasseur-Ouimet and other people involved with this talented choir. Poignant and charming, it shows that French outside Quebec doesn’t necessarily have a bleak future. Indeed, not only is Franco-Albertan culture surviving, but it is also enriching our country’s heritage. In French with English subtitles.
Shot in Montreal over a four-month period, from May to September 2020, Jules’ Impossible Summer charts the evolving relationship between the filmmaker and her 19-year-old son through 15 redundant conversations about the importance—or the impossibility, depending on the point of view—of following the health restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
Many Black, racialized and immigrant women work with elderly patients as healthcare providers. Their jobs, already arduous and underpaid as it is, have become even more exhausting during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some public commentators have described them as overrepresented in this sector because of their culture, and hailed them as “guardian angels,” what do they themselves have to say? This cross-sectional portrait of some of these women takes the form of a meditative essay.
The shore of a lake. A dam. Myriad testimonials that go right over our heads, just like everything else. Camped out in his car, a filmmaker stares out at the landscape through the raindrops coating the windows. Encounters emerge one by one. Voices multiply, at times validating each other, later contradictory. The filmmaker moves from worry to optimism. Only one question remains: Is there a right answer?
Marguerite Paquin lives in a seniors’ home where 14 nuns from her religious congregation have succumbed to COVID-19. The film takes us from the grandeur of the landscapes of Côte-Nord, Quebec, where Marguerite has worked for 47 years, into the room where she sits confined today, finding a sort of liberation through prayer and unshakeable solidarity with her sisters who are suffering.
In conversations with passionate sociologist and political thinker Jean Pichette, the filmmaker views the forced downtime stemming from the current crisis as an opportunity to rethink our modes of existence and our relationship to others, nature, science, the economy, art, politics—in short, everything that makes us human.
New York, 1905. Visionary inventor Nikola Tesla makes one last appeal to J.P. Morgan, his onetime benefactor. Inspired by real events, this electrifying short is a spectacular burst of image and sound that draws as much from the tradition of avant-garde cinema as it does from animated documentary.
Viewer Advisory: This film contains scenes of animal slaughter.
An emerging generation of farmers unites around a common cause: developing initiatives that favour sustainable and rewarding community-based agriculture.
Viewer Advisory: This film contains scenes of animal slaughter..
Fall has come: the harvest festival, hunting and butchering season. The village gets ready for winter. As ties between communities are strengthened, the Gaspé is changing.
A woman with a deep love of the land, Yolande Simard Perrault sees her life as having been shaped by a planetary upheaval in Charlevoix, Quebec, millions of years ago. As enduring as the Canadian Shield, she’s a woman of strength and spirit, a child of the crater left by the meteor’s impact. This documentary portrays a determined woman who’s the reflection of a land created on an immense scale. She was the creative and life partner of filmmaker Pierre Perrault, who gave up everything to be by her side. The film charts the influence of her unquenchable dreams and her contribution to the building of a people’s collective memory. In a stream of images and words, Simard Perrault recounts the splendours of the landscape and the people who shaped it. Generous and boundless, she embarks on a quest for identity that nurtures and perpetuates the oeuvre of the man who breathed new life into Quebec cinema.
In the 1930s, in the throes of the Great Depression, the government relocated more than 80,000 citizens to found a new settlement in the virgin forests of Quebec's Abitibi region. After enduring backbreaking work to clear the land, however, many left, seeking a better life in the city or as labourers for the large corporations that had come to exploit the North's valuable resources. The Lalancette family, however, have persisted in forging their future on the land from one generation to the next, earning their keep from farming, and defying the constraints of globalization and the mining and forestry companies that control the area. Revisiting the heritage of Quebec filmmakers who documented Abitibi, following in the footsteps of Pierre Perrault, among others, this documentary traces a defining chapter of Quebec history and raises fundamental questions about regional development.
Some dreamers have the power to inspire us, bring us together, and help us reconnect with our humanity. Alain Philoctète, a Haitian artist and activist who settled in Quebec, returns to the country of his birth to develop a permaculture project with local farmers. There, he has an emotional reunion with family members and his former comrades in arms, whose ideals remain unshaken despite the lingering aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and political instability. However, Alain, who is suffering from cancer, has to undergo treatment in Montreal, where his loved ones provide the same degree of affection and solidarity as he receives in Haiti. Director Will Prosper films this inspiring dreamer on his hopeful quest, chronicling the challenges of exile and illness with the personal, knowing touch of a longtime friend. With a rich score composed by Jenny Salgado, Kenbe la, Until We Win offers a cinematic journey that will move viewers to ponder the importance of embracing ideals and passing them on.
In a quest to rediscover the spiritual values of his own people, an African filmmaker from the Gourmantche tribe of Burkina Faso visits the Atikamekw of Northern Quebec. The resulting documentary is a dialogue between those who divine the future in the sand with those who use snow-encased sweat lodges to reconnect with the spiritual world.
This short documentary studies life in the village of Kangirsujuaq, Nunavik. In this community on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, children’s laughter fills the streets while the old people ponder the passage of time. They are nomads of the wide-open spaces who are trying to get used to the strange feeling of staying put. While the teenagers lap up Southern culture and play golf on the tundra to kill time, the Elders are slowly dying, as their entire culture seems to fade away.
Elisapie Isaac, a filmmaker born in Nunavik, decides to return to her roots on this breathtaking land. To bridge the growing gap between the young and the old, she speaks to her grandfather, now deceased, and confides in him her hopes and fears. Grappling with isolation, family relationships, resource extraction, land-based knowledges, the influence of Southern culture and the ongoing impacts of colonialism on Inuit ways of life, Elisapie Isaac offers a nuanced portrait of the North.
This short documentary tells the story of Tony Chachai, a young Indigenous man in search of his identity. Moved by the desire to reconnect with his Atikamekw roots, he delivers a touching testimony on the journey that brought him closer to his family and community. On the verge of becoming a father himself, he becomes increasingly aware of the richness of his heritage and celebrates it by dancing in a powwow.
In the voiceover for this animated short, a young woman attempts to describe herself, casting her life in the ideal light that society expects. The film’s imagery, however, tells a different story, poignantly illustrating the intense anxiety that comes with the quest for perfection and the pursuit of happiness. A film that’s both funny and moving, and above all, profoundly human.
This short, silent film captures a Sunday afternoon at a community skating rink. Iconic Quebec director Gilles Carle has the camera follow toddlers learning to skate, young girls flashing their skates and boys decked out in the colours of their favourite hockey teams. A picture perfect moment on a bright winter's day.
In this animated short, Roch Carrier recounts the most mortifying moment of his childhood. At a time when all his friends worshipped Maurice "Rocket" Richard and wore his number 9 Canadiens hockey jersey, the boy was mistakenly sent a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey from Eaton's. Unable to convince his mother to send it back, he must face his friends wearing the colours of the opposing team. This short film, based on the book The Hockey Sweater, is an NFB classic that appeals to hockey lovers of all ages.
This animated short tells the story of Oma, who is moving from her house on Maple Street where she lived most of her life to a senior's residence where she doesn't know anyone. Her granddaughter Emily, a young girl full of wide-eyed enthusiasm, senses that her grandmother isn't sure she will like her new home. Wishing to help, she comes up with an idea to ease the burden of this momentous change.
This animated short by Theodore Ushev combines warmth, humour and magic in a story about a young girl who misses her grandmother. When Lili finds a tzaritza (magic shell) along the seashore, she hatches a plan to bring her Grandma from Bulgaria to Montreal to make her father happy. Part of the Talespinners collection, the film features music by Normand Roger.
This Oscar®-nominated animated film comes from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Torill Kove (The Danish Poet). It's a tall tale about her grandmother's life in Oslo, Norway, during World War II. Sharp and whimsical, her story combines her grandmother's tales with historical events and fantasy, showing how a cherished anecdote can come to acquire a mythical status. King Harald of Norway said, "I love the irony of this short."
It's summer and Ludovic is invited to his grandfather's farm. The little teddy bear finds Grandpa very saddened by the death of Grandma, and Ludovic is fascinated by a room filled with mementos. Grandma's portrait comes to life, and Ludovic is able to kiss and hug her. This poignant tale evokes the closeness and understanding between a grandfather and his little grandson who gradually learn to accept the death of a loved one.
In this animated short 2 children, Tina and Dalby, disobey their mama with almost tragic consequences. Having strayed away from home, they run afoul of a local "cocoya," a wicked spirit that loves to eat little boys! But through Tina's resourcefulness and cunning, the cocoya is vanquished and the children run back to mama's forgiving arms.
Mamie lives in Gaspésie in a house that faces away from the sea. Her granddaughter wonders: “Why isn’t Mamie interested in me or her other grandchildren? Why won’t she give me any affection or her beautiful blanket? What happened that made Mamie so indifferent?” Just like her home, Mamie shuts herself off and won’t let anyone into heart. If it’s true that we are the summary of our experiences and those we allow into our lives, what remains if we don’t let anyone in? In this wonderful animation of hand-painted watercolours, the filmmaker reaches back into her own childhood memories to share a personal and touching story about the break in “passing things on” between her and her grandmother. Mamie was directed by Janice Nadeau and co-produced by the NFB and Folimage.
When her parents leave her behind for the first time, Madeleine sees them off with tears in her eyes. Fortunately, her grand-mother is there to coax her out of her sadness. Grandma's house is full of surprises, including a chest full of costumes perfect for dress-up. Together they play and bake. Slowly, Madeleine discovers that Grandma seems to know exactly how to have fun. Adults will reminisce about cherished moments shared with grandparents and reflect on the nature of memory. Younger children will be delighted by young Madeleine's adventures. A film without words.
This animated short tells the story of Maq, a Mi'kmaq boy who realizes his potential with the help of inconspicuous mentors. When an elder in the community offers him a small piece of pipestone, Maq carves a little person out of it. Proud of his work, the boy wants to impress his grandfather and journeys through the woods to find him. Along the path Maq meets a curious traveller named Mi'gmwesu. Together they share stories, medicine, laughter, and song. Maq begins to care less about making a good impression and more about sharing the knowledge and spirit he's found through his creation. Part of the Talespinners collection, which uses vibrant animation to bring popular children's stories from a wide range of cultural communities to the screen.