French Toast: Québec Cinema Comes to Town

The Rendez-vous du cinéma quebécois, which comes to Whitehorse April 20 and 21, features two new realeases from Québec producers: À l’origine d’un cri (Crying Out) from Robin Aubert and 2 Frogs dans l’Ouest from Dany Papineau. .

À l’origine d’un cri depicts the relationship of three men: grandfather, father and son, who have the same problems of repressed emotions, violence and alcohol adiction.

The father can’t accept the death of his wife, so he exhumes her body and escapes with her, fleeing from one hotel to another.

The grandfather and the son set out together to find him.

French Toast spoke with Robin Aubert about his third movie: the controversial and strong À l’origine d’un cri.

FT: Your movie is a fiction openly inspired by moments of your own life and the story of your family. Would you say that writing and directing À l’origine d’un cri was therapeutic?

RA: I wouldn’t say therapeutic. At the time I directed my two first movies, Saint-Martyr des Damnés and À quelle heure le train pour nulle part?, I was just not ready to direct a personal movie. The idea was there, but I was not ready.

Then, suddenly it came out for no reason. So in a way, it was probably therapeutic, but I wasn’t too aware of it. Perhaps it was more like an identity search.

FT: There is a lot of fiction in your movies …

RA: I don’t really understand why it so fashionable now in Québec cinema to depict reality. I don’t think we need more reality than what we go through every day. We have the chance to go farther than what we already know, so why don’t we try?

FT: Was it frightening to present the film to your family?

RA: Of course. We watched it together. At first, there was a long silence. They were not sure how they were supposed to react, but finally they thought it was good.

They would sure like it if one day I could direct a “feel-good” movie, but they are proud of me anyway. Parents are always proud of what their kid is doing.

FT: In your last movie, À quelle heure le train pour nulle part? and in À l’origine d’un cri, you touch on the subjects of craziness and death. Do you think humans need to experience craziness to be able to reach the light after an ordeal?

RA: Men and women are made of light and dark and we have to accept and recognize this fact. I think if we don’t allow ourselves to go to our dark side when we go through a hard experience or a death, we’ll accumulate anger and repressed emotions, in a sort of cancer.

In the movie, when the dad removes his wife’s body from the ground, it seems like fantasy, fiction or extreme reaction provoked by craziness.

In fact, if you speak with people who have gone through the death of someone they love with passion, they will often tell you that, if they could have done something to bring their love back, they would have done it.

FT: Is the setting of the action inspired by your childhood?

RA: The landscape is a distinct and important character: it’s the image of a population in extinction. Bars and hotels are almost empty in some areas in the movie and it’s very close to the current reality.

But these places were so popular when I was a kid. It’s the image of the depopulation: people are leaving the country for the cities. The action of the story occurs in an in-between moment: just before new people arrive and the new culture takes root.

The setting is like a tribute to the good old times.

FT: What was the audience reaction when the movie was presented in anglophone parts of the country?

RA: My only reference so far was in Toronto. I have to say there were a lot of Francophones in the crowd. Surprisingly, the crowd was almost laughing and it’s not easy to explain why. I think people were mostly caught by the funniest moment of the story.

Actually, it wasn’t my purpose to do a very dark movie. There is a lot of light and tenderness in it. The relation of the grandfather and the grandson is wonderful to observe. In their language, they say many times, “I love you.”

Robin Aubert will be available for a question-and-answer session after the presentation of À l’origine d’un cri at the Beringia Interpretive Centre on April 20.

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.

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