Mélanie and Olivier decided to cycle the North Shore of Quebec, to better understand the complex relationships that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. This quest for identity would push them to travel deep inside themselves and to faraway lands. Their encounters, both planned and spontaneous, include the surprising tale of an Innu man in search of his ancestors in Normandy, and the heart-wrenching story of the sister of Corporal Marcel Lemay, who was killed during the 1990 Oka crisis.
“Life isn’t what happens inside molecules, but in the links that bind them together.”
Québékoisie opens with this quote from pioneering molecular biologist Linus Pauling, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on the nature of chemical bonds and their applications for demonstrating the structure of complex compounds, as well as a Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to nuclear weapons and war as means for resolving international conflicts. One could wonder if his interest in the very nature of coexistence at an infinitesimally tiny scale brought him to work to improve the common good of all of humanity.
Pauling’s words echo throughout this engaging documentary from Carrier and Higgins, centred around relationships. For this filmmaking duo, learning about something always leads to action: hitting the road, seeking out encounters with others and learning about how they experience the world. In other words: filming and listening as a way to fight ignorance. Québékoisie confronts us from the very start with the question of prejudice towards First Nations peoples in a gut-wrenching scene where a passerby blithely lets loose a series of crassly ignorant and racist remarks. This all-too-present reality must absolutely be unmasked in order for us to speak out against it—all it takes is a quick look at recent news to recognize this sad fact. It’s long past time for us to pick apart these still-perpetuated myths upon which we’ve built a society, and to fight against a sterile homogenization of different cultures.
Québékoisie is a film that leaves us with the irrepressible desire to become better listeners, so that we can build a better society.
Tënk's programming assistant
Olivier Higgins and Mélanie Carrier are film directors and producers from Quebec, Canada. Biologists by training, they discovered video production by documenting their adventures around the world. Awarded many times and widely distributed internationally, their work is devoted to documentary films focused on issues related to identity, social fabric, territory and social justice. Their first film, Asiemut, tells the story of their 8,000 km bicycle journey in Asia. It won 36 awards in addition to being distributed in 40 countries. Then, with Encounters and Québékoisie, they question the complex relationship between Quebecers and First Nations people. These films received many honours worldwide and Québékoisie has been translated into twenty languages. After holding more than 400 film conferences in Quebec, Europe and the United States, they dedicated themselves to the creation of Wandering, a Rohingya Story, their latest documentary about the Rohingya refugee crisis. Parallel to this project, they also designed and produced a multidisciplinary exhibition on display at the Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts.