Quebec Studies

Laid-off Workers and Farms for Sale: The Faces and Spaces of Post-Industrial Devastation in Sébastien Pilote’s Films

Quebec Studies (2018), 65, (1), 79–102.

Abstract

Sébastien Pilote’s first three films form a territorial and thematic trilogy, which chronicles the decline of Québec’s peripheral regions. The main characters of his 2007 short Dust bowl Ha! Ha! and subsequent two full-length features, Le vendeur (2011) and Le démantèlement (2013), are men in their middle to late years (a factory worker, a car salesman, and a sheep farmer), who are at the same time observers and victims of a process of post-industrial destruction that has rendered both big factories and small farms obsolete. The films are best analyzed as “récits d’espace,” incarnated in a variety of places that paint a complex picture: closed factories, empty storefronts, and derelict barns evoke loss and isolation, but other locales such as hockey rinks and church basements bustle with life and attest to the enduring community spirit of those who suffer. The dominant feeling is one of nostalgia though. The lost jobs are not coming back, and in order to move on, the new generation will have to move away. A world is coming to an end.

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Dalle, Matthieu