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Août 2018
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Let's pay tribute to women's cinema
By Elyzabeth Walling 

The beauty of the world

 It's on the set of André Forcier's last film, La beauté du monde, that I felt a need to speak about women in cinema. A scene of that movie brings together thirteen actresses of different origins and ages, and a woman, Nathalie Moliavko-Visotzky, is behind the camera! Do we say camerawoman? Saying it, we realize that it's much less common than its male synonym... Another woman, Sara Mishara, is behind the camera of Continental un film sans fusil, Tu dors Nicole, Félix et Meira. I'm announcing right now that they will be the theme of a future newsletter. For now, it's summer, and the scene is a picnic. To keep it on the light side, I thought I'd offer you a small buffet of films by our women directors? While we agree that every film shot by a woman seems to be the result of a struggle, it's in a spirit of celebration that I wish to share with you some of the gems restored with love by Elephant. 
Last July, at Femmes, femmes, a series of showings illustrating the diversity of movies directed by women through times and continents, a freshly-restored version of Marquise Lepage's first film, Marie s'en va-t-en ville, was presented at the Cinémathèque québécoise. Included in the 100 sessions spread over two months of course were films restored by Elephant. It was an opportunity to note the choice spot our women directors occupy in the world.  
The movie's plot: Marie, a 13-year old runaway in search of her identity lands in Montreal and meets an aging prostitute who will become a role model for the teenager. The film brings together two characters that everything seems to oppose.

Marquise Lepage's career spans more than three decades and has given us a score of documentary and fiction films. She's actively involved in Réalisatrices équitables (Fair Directors), an organization that seeks equity for Quebec women directors and a fair distribution of public funds allocated to cinema, television and the new media. 

Marquise Lepage compares the concept of Réalisatrices équitables to that of fair coffee! Not only are there "women's films," but women who make our cinema what it is, that is, rich and diversified! 


The last refuge

Not only does Elephant give itself a mission of memory, but also a mission of discovery! One film deeply touched the producer and founder of Elephant Marie-José Raymond: Le dernier havre (The Last Refuge).

"Few people knew film director Denyse Benoît," she said at the movie presentation. "But now, thanks to Elephant, you'll have quite a revelation, like I did!" It's always moving to hear spectators' comments after the screening. "I discovered the Gaspé, a part of Quebec I didn't know and more beautiful than I could imagine." Or again, "many will feel like rediscovering that part of the country." Another recalled that "when the film was released 31 years ago, aid in dying was already being discussed." A woman spectator noted, "Everything is said in very few words." That eloquent silence that leaves room for the spectator's emotion and imagination is the mark of a true masterpiece! 

Adapted from a novel by Yves Thériault, the film relates the last days of an old fisherman seeking to preserve his dignity. Bored to death at the home of his son and daughter-in-law, he secretly undertakes to repair an abandoned boat he discovered during his long walks on the seashore. (STM)
Don't miss that outstanding movie on the big screen at the Cinémathèque québécoise August 16 or on illico and iTunes! 
Deaf in the city

Mireille Dansereau is a pioneer of Quebec cinema. She's one of the founders of the ACPAV (Cooperative Association of Audiovisual Productions). Since its inception in 1971, the ACPAV has dedicated itself to the development and production of art films, especially those that stir thought. Mireille directed the first Quebec feature film shot by a woman in the private sector.
Her film, Le sourd dans la ville (Deaf in the City), adapted from a novel by Marie-Claire Blais, was a Quebec box-office success in the 80s. The Hôtel des Voyageurs is a small downtown hotel located next to a station where people go to take refuge, debase themselves and forget. The owner of the hotel is called Gloria. Maternal and sensuous behind her sometimes coarse exterior, Gloria takes care of her customers as she would her own children. A singular film, restored by Elephant, that tackles head-on the dark universe of novelist Marie-Claire Blais. 
In an interview with Denis Bélanger and Michel Coulombe for the Ciné-Bulles Magazine, Mireille Dansereau explained, "The subject is so philosophical that we had to avoid realism, detach ourselves from reality (...) Marie-Claire Blais's popular class is nothing like the world of Michel Tremblay and Marc-André Forcier. The world of Marie-Claire Biais is more international. It's not the Plateau Mont-Royal. Several languages are spoken." (Ciné-Bulles, vol. 7, n° 1, 1987, p. 30-34)
In one click, meet Mireille Dansereau through this excerpt shot in 2013 to present the film on illico.

Deaf in the City gathers a bevy of stars, among them Angèle Coutu, Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge and Béatrice Picard. It will be shown at the Cinémathèque québécoise Monday, August 20, in the presence of author Marie-Claire Blais.
The final word belongs to Carole Laure who made her mark as much in front of the camera with films like La tête de Normande St-Onge and Fantastica, (one of the rare musicals of Quebec cinema) as behind the camera as director of Love Project, La Capture, CQ2 and Les fils de Marie. She was for years the ambassador of Quebec cinema for the screening of our movies in Paris. 
"As difficult as it is to make a film," she said on talk show Contact, "your biggest dream is that it be seen."
Elephant makes it possible for you to achieve that dream!

Good cinema!
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