Academic journal article Science Fiction Film and Television

The Future of Quebec in SF Film and Television

Academic journal article Science Fiction Film and Television

The Future of Quebec in SF Film and Television

Article excerpt

Sf and Quebec is a connection not naturally made, but in terms of literature, the province offers a surprisingly rich and vibrant array of French-language sf (see Ransom 'Parabolas'). In contrast, 'the contemporary euphoria of Quebec's cinematographic milieu' (Marshall 'Cinéma', 266)1 does not yet extend to sf in visual media. This lack results in part from the prohibitive cost of plausible special effects. Furthermore, received ideas about Quebec contribute to the perception of its disconnection from a genre often defined by its critical engagement with science. Perceived as being obsessed with its past, Quebec may be viewed as uninterested in the future, and, late to modernise, it may be deemed unlikely to engage in space exploration. In addition, developing out of the cinéma direct tradition, Quebec's fiction films were long viewed as subject to the realist paradigms of documentary cinema (Reines 23; Warren 9). This situation began to change in the 1990s, when Quebec's film industry had begun to codify its institutions, earn recognition from outside the province (Mackenzie 174), and auteurs such as Robert Lepage and Jean-Claude Lauzon rejected the limitations placed on the province's filmic tradition by documentary-like realism.

This essay surveys the few occasions that Franco-Québécois filmmakers have tackled sf, before outlining the ways in which Dans une galaxie près de chez vous (In a Galaxy Near You; 1999-), the province's first sf visual media franchise, exploits national markers to offer a variant of a genre generally about difference and estrangement that is nonetheless deeply rooted in Quebec. Finally, this essay examines a much more sophisticated - both visually and intellectually - engagement with sf by a major auteur filmmaker and producer, Robert Lepage. First, however, a brief discussion of what I mean by 'Québécois film and television' and how the term 'nation' applies to a Canadian province is in order.

Here, 'Québécois film and television' refers to French-language media written and produced by francophone Quebecers, shot largely in Quebec, with the majority of its roles cast with Franco-Québécois actors. Such works most often also receive government subsidies not just from the federal agency, Telefilm Canada, but specifically from the provincial body SODEC (la Société pour le Développement des Entreprises Culturelles). Needless to say, I am not going to discuss the work of Toronto-born David Cronenberg, an Anglo-Canadian filmmaker of international renown. Nor am I going to talk about Englishlanguage releases produced or directed by Franco-Québécois, like Jean-Claude Lord's The Vindicator (Canada 1986), Christian Duguay's Screamers (Canada/ USA/Japan 1995) or Heavy Metal 2000 (Coldewey and Lemire Canada/Germany 2000) made by Montréal's CinéGroupe. Neither am I going to talk about the Syfy/Space Channel's North American adaptation of the (far superior) BBC television series Being Human (UK 2008-13; Canada 2011-14), shot in Montréal, except to point out its six episodes directed by major names in Quebec film: Charles Binamé (four episodes, 2011-12) and Erik Canuel (two episodes, 2011). Not incidentally, much of its production crew, including the special effects crew, are Franco-Quebecers. Conversely, I will exclude projects that receive SODEC funding, rely on French-Canadian production crews, but are filmed in English with Anglophone actors, sometimes with a token Québécois star cast in a secondary role, such as Julie Le Breton in The Good Lie (Linden Canada 2012), released in Quebec and dubbed in French as Histoire à faire peur (2013).

Limiting my corpus this way proves not only convenient by dramatically reducing its size, it also focuses my arguments on a very specific 'national' body of work by relying precisely on the most significant cultural criterion in contemporary definitions of what it means to be 'Québécois': use of the French language. Selling the concept of the Canadian province of Quebec as a 'nation', on the other hand, becomes more complex, as film scholar Bill Marshall discovered. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.