Quebec Studies

Special dossier: Space and Place in the Work of Contemporary Québécois Filmmakers

Quebec Studies (2018), 65, (1), 61–77.

Abstract

Regional space in Québec cinema has long been associated with the vestiges of French-Canadian Catholic identity. A body of films in the 2000s by well-known filmmakers challenges this traditional iconography and imagines the Québec region as not only a site of socio-economic crisis and stagnation but of cultural transmission and spiritual renewal. The protagonists in Louis Bélanger’s Route 132 and Bernard Émond’s La neuvaine/The Novena (2005) and La donation/The Legacy (2009) find meaning and solace in rural/regional spaces (farm houses, religious sites, declining mining towns) outside of their own personal experience. Rather than reading this return to the rural and quest for “home” as exemplary of a conservative reaction to urban cosmopolitanism, this article will argue for the region in these films as a potentially productive site from which to rethink a postmodern, post-Catholic Québec. Using theories of critical regionalism that view local or rooted cultures as constantly interrupted by external forces and shaped by transformation across time (Krista Comer and Neil Campbell), I propose to read Québec cinema’s re-investment in the regional symbolic as indicative of a quest for meaningful cultural specificity in an increasingly uncertain and polarized world.

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Author details

Roberts, Katherine A.