“boost” for sovereignty

“boost” for sovereignty
“boost” for sovereignty

Film buffs who are familiar with the work of Simon Lavoie, such as Those who make revolutions half-heartedly have only dug themselves a grave (2016) et Laurentie (2011) — both co-directed with Mathieu Denis, will not be surprised by the sharp tone of his new project, Meltcreated in “a single impulse”.

“This film is intended as a sort of whiplash; a kind of mirror held up to ourselves [les Québécois]faced with a certain mediocrity, with this status quo in which we have been floundering for several decades, with our carelessness in relation to the French language and our status within Canada,” explains Simon Lavoie straight away, in an interview with Soleil.

With this nearly two-hour feature film, the director imagines the fate of Quebec political prisoners (Jean-François Casabonne, Pierre Curzi, Fayolle Jean, Louise Laprade, Luc Morissette and Guy Thauvette) sentenced to life in prison, who will die mysteriously one after the other in their cell.

The prisoner played by Jean-François Casabonne will have to request his parole from the court in order to regain his freedom… But completely other challenges await him on the outside. (K-Films America)

Surrounded by prison guards and a judge who only speak to them in English, the inmates are visibly despised for who they are, what they represent.

If these tensions may recall a few pages from our history textbooks, Simon Lavoie insists: Melt draws the future that will “probably” be destined for us, as a society, if the status quo remains.

“Obviously, we are in a dramatization. I concede it. I blacken in broad strokes. It’s a dramatic work… But where does Anglicization lead us? [du Québec]? Ultimately, French will disappear and the majority of people will speak English,” fears the artist, who does not hide his concern.

In order not to contribute to this anglicization, Simon Lavoie has also decided to borrow some codes from silent cinema: when his English-speaking characters speak, their text appears on the screen in the form of intertitles.

Genres mix deliberately throughout Blending In. If the independent production takes on the air of an “auteur film” from the start, it nevertheless quickly turns to science fiction, horror (see the film poster), essay, then even swings at the very end towards the documentary.

Without revealing too much about the narrative of the work, let us simply add that the characters played by Pascale Bussières and Sébastien Ricard will contribute to these unexpected changes in tone.

A “call to action”

We will have understood: with Melt comes the “desire to shock and provoke”… but not gratuitously.

“It’s not a reassuring film, but it’s still a call to action,” says the filmmaker from Charlevoix.

If some parts of his scenario are not nuanced, it is primarily to nourish his point and encourage the audience to think. And this, despite the “controversial” nature of its subject which questions “the relationship between the concept of nation and language”.

“The simple fact that this film exists shows that those who created it are not desperate.”

— Simon Lavoie, about his film, Se merge

“Sometimes, out of modesty, for fear of shocking or to keep things easy, we add a lot of nuance; we put our words into perspective. But sometimes it’s saving to call a spade, a spade, to make a radical statement which will obviously be counterbalanced [plus tard] by others [personnes]», Estimates Simon Lavoie, who enjoyed total freedom throughout his creative process.

At 45, the director believes he has a relationship with Quebec that is quite similar to the one he had when he was younger. Since his history lessons and the awakening of his “national consciousness” as a teenager, he personally wishes to occupy “a posture of resistance”.

The movie poster Melt illustrates the mixture of genres which particularly characterizes the new work of Simon Lavoie. (K-Films America)

Despite the dark and critical sides of his film, he wanted to instill a certain dose of hope about the future of Quebec.

“I am far from desperate. I still have the impression that there is a window before us to finally be able to ensure our sustainability as a people, preserve our language, access the concert of nations and have a less troubled and more assumed relationship with others,” says Simon Lavoie, who says he is possessed by a feeling of “urgency” regarding the independence of Quebec.

Art as roots

Born at the end of the 1970s, Simon Lavoie belongs to this generation which observed from afar the debates surrounding the two referendums, each time too young to be able to take part in them.

His political and sovereignist awakening took place, among other things, through contact with artists and works which “made him understand where he came from and who he was”. It is therefore no coincidence that his films, and particularly Meltare imbued with cinematographic or literary references.

Surrounded by books in their cell, the prisoners in his most recent feature film cite texts by Alain Grandbois, Hubert Aquin, Fernand Dumont and several others.

By co-directing Those who make revolutions half-heartedly have only dug themselves a grave (2016), co-writing the film Norbourg (2022) or by adapting the books to the cinema The torrent by Anne Hébert and The little girl who loved matches too much by Gaétan Soucy, Simon Lavoie is ultimately driven by the “desire to bear witness to who we are”.

“If Quebec filmmakers don’t talk about our stories, in French… it’s not foreign filmmakers who will do it. […] I always had the impression that we had to talk about what we are, what we know, this reality that is ours and to bear witness to it in front of the world. And that’s what I’ve always tried to do in all my films,” concludes the filmmaker, driven by the desire to create more science fiction projects.

Melt will be released in cinemas from June 28.

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