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May 2018
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April makes the flower, May gets the honour 

By Elyzabeth Walling 

May ‘68

In May 50 years ago, a wind of revolt was blowing in France. In Mexico, the same scenario was unfolding. Young people were voicing their anger at all forms of authority. The Mexican government ordered the police to open fire on the crowd to stifle the movement. 
In March, Elephant showed the film  Les Ordres at Mexico's Cineteca Nacional: In October 1970, following the perpetration of terrorist acts by the Quebec Liberation Front (QLF), the Canadian government enforced the War Measures Act to restore law and order. It led to the arbitrary arrest of some 500 people against whom no charge was ever laid. The film follows five fictional characters through that painful episode of Quebec history.

Les Ordres was the second feature film directed by Michel Brault. In May 1975, the film was presented at the Cannes Festival and Michel Brault was awarded the Palme d'Or for best director. This year, no Canadian or Quebec film is entered into the Cannes competition.

Les Ordres, subtitled in Spanish and now available in Spanish-speaking countries like 49 other Elephant films, was favourably received by our Mexican neighbours.
Watch the rap session that followed the screening.
Mexico's Cineteca Nacional attracts over 1,200,000 spectators, with more than 50 per cent aged between 18 and 25! Our Quebec cinema has just reached that public eager for discoveries. While the U.S. president threatens to build a wall separating Mexico from the United States, we're building stronger ties through our culture! Our cinema makes it obvious there are more similarities than differences between us. Elephant is banking on what unites us while including what distinguishes us.  
Nelson Caro, a film critic for more than 35 years, has for the past 11 years been at the helm of the Cineteca, one of the world's largest film libraries. It would be interesting to invite him to Quebec to discuss the important role a national film library can play. Here, we sometimes seem to forget to give cinema courses to our students. The survival of our industry depends on the awakening of our viewers. Our universities might benefit from an exchange with that astute devotee of the seventh art. Elephant has already suggested it!
The University of Mexico has scheduled a retrospective of films on student movement forerunners of social changes that are still occurring. Denis Héroux's film Jusqu'au cou, restored by Elephant, takes a peep at those student movements. 
Will more films restored by Elephant be seen throughout Mexico? We hope so!

Is it a coincidence that 50 films were made available to the Spanish public in 2018, 50th anniversary of the May ‘68 revolution? If revolutions are attempts to make dreams come true, Elephant, by making our films accessible to the Spanish-speaking world, has made a major stride towards opening the frontiers of hearts and minds!

To discover them, click on  iTunes en espanol on the Elephant site.

Marie-José Raymond and Claude Fournier, co-founders of Elephant, shared their mission with four million viewers in an interview on popular Channel 22 of Mexico's national television.

Watch the interview

Elephant is indeed a unique initiative since it is entirely financed by a single sponsor and all profits are returned to copyright holders.  
As Léo Ferré sang in Summer ‘68:
"With sunny owls 
Like May children 
Who will be back this fall 
After the summer of 1789 

Ça Ira, Ça Ira, Ça Ira, Ça Ira, Ça Ira, Ça Ira"

Seeing big

While giving us a hand for a shoot at the Cinéma Impérial, Jérôme Sabourin tells me about his new adventure! The talented director of photography has invested in a 4K RGB 3D laser projector from Barco, a powerful tool at the cutting edge of technology which projects onto a 15-foot screen.

"We just built something that did not exist in Quebec," says Jérôme. "These past few months, I toured North America to find the world's best projector."
Jérôme has made a name for himself, but the apple did not fall far from the tree. Was the love for cinema passed from father to son? "My father, the actor Marcel Sabourin, played in movies I can now happily see again! Whether it's  Le vieux pays où Rimbaud est mort or La mort d'un bûcheron, it's important to see those movies with today's quality. The fact they're restored by cinema people makes a huge difference! Elephant's work is very important."  

We learned with great joy the development of the project Au bout du rien pantoute is supported by Sodec. It's a documentary bio essay on the life of actor Marcel Sabourin directed by his son Jérôme!  A nice creative adventure started a few weeks ago. Sarah Lévesque and Angélique Richer are scripting it. Meanwhile, see the thousand faces of that inspiring actor in several films on Elephant! 
All flowers are born in a  prison

 As part of Elephant on the Big Screen, which has proposed for several months a cycle of co-productions, the Cinémathèque québécoise will present a film on a more than ever hot topic,  Clandestins. (Illegal Immigrants). Denis Chouinard's and Nicolas Wadimoff's first film shows not only the inhuman conditions those we now call ‘migrants' are willing to face, but also the eyes turned to the sky and full of hope. Where do we find hope when we have to hide in the dark?  

Clandestins is a deeply moving and humane film depicting the harsh reality of six illegal immigrants stuck in a container. Fleeing Europe and heading for Canada in the hope of a better life, they struggle to survive the long ocean crossing.
I can't speak of that film objectively. One of its directors, Denis Chouinard, was one of my first housemates when I returned from theatre school in England. Directors Louis Bélanger and Robert Morin sometimes came to our agitated St. Lawrence Boulevard apartment to talk cinema. Denis was intense. His rigour and general culture greatly impressed me. His particular inclination for social issues and his determination come through in this first film.  

Same qualities in the casting:  the daring directors bet on finding the young gypsy who played in Tony Gatlif's Mondo! After a long journey to find him, you'll see him portraying young Sandu in the film! 
Released in 1997, Clandestins was presented in many international festivals and collected a number of awards, including the Bayard d'Or for the best movie at Namur's Festival international du film francophone (FIFF). Don't miss the version restored by Elephant, the Memory of Quebec Cinema, also available on illico and iTunes.

The entire ocean in one drop!

Last year, at Cinema on the Beach, Elephant presented the restored version of one of Denis Villeneuve's early films, Un 32 août sur terre , as part of the prestigious Cannes Classics!  Has it contributed to Denis's selection as jury member this year? There will still be a bit of Quebec blue on the choice of the Palme d'Or, even though no film will represent Quebec in that category! 
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