Remembering Pierre Falardeau at FNC

This year’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema payed homage to the late Quebecois filmmaker Pierre Falardeau with a retrospective of his sovereignist-inspired films, including a documentary about his life and screening of his 1990 feature Le Party.

Falardeau is mostly known for his staunch support of Quebec sovereignty, and calls for independence of his beloved quasi-nation-state. However, his death last year caused concern within the movement, because his outspoken, vocal opposition to Canadian federalism would no longer be heard.

I had the chance to attend the screening of Le Party because it was one of the few Falardeau films I hadn’t seen. I actually consider myself a fan of his earlier work with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB-ONF) and when I was first introduced to his documentaries, I found it odd that a devout Quebec sovereignist would choose to produce films and receive funding from a federal agency like the NFB-ONF.

It seems fitting that organizers at the 39th edition of Festival du Nouveau Cinema would want to introduce Falardeau’s work to a mainstream film-going public. He was a passionate man who used his films to romanticize the sovereignty cause, as well as tell the tale of those Quebecers who fought against oppression, even if that oppressor was the Canadian state.

As I looked around inside the cinema at Ex-Centris on St-Laurent Boulevard, I didn’t see what I thought I might. A bunch of raggedy, old, bearded revolutionaries. Instead I saw mainly bourgeois, white, middle class, married couples enjoying a nice evening at the festival.

I must admit that I was one of the few Anglophones in the room, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Even when the crowd erupted in applause during the climax of the film, a scene where a female party performer-singer repeatedly cries out “liberté.” I felt as if it was intended to evoke an emotion in Quebecers and fan the flames of independence.

The timing of the FNC Falardeau retrospective was impeccable. With the recent 40th anniversary of the October Crisis and subsequent prisoner monument unveiled at la Société Saint-Jean Baptiste on Sherbrooke Street, it looks like the sovereignist spark has once again reignited in the province, so what better time to go view a Pierre Falardeau film.

Adam Bemma is a journalist, humanitarian, and media consultant based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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