As the second speaker of the Film Studies Colloquium series, PhD candidate Kester Dyer will present a talk titled “Storytelling, The Supernatural and Québec Cinema” on Friday, February 20th at 4pm in room FB 411.
“As Germain Lacasse has demonstrated, Québec cinema across all periods of its history can be described in terms of its orality, from the figure of the bonimenteur, early cinema’s lecturer, up to the present day. Lacasse’s findings suggest possible continuities with Québec’s oral storytelling tradition, but whereas supernatural elements dominate Québécois oral storytelling, commentators have often noted the subordination of these features in Québec national cinema, emphasizing instead its essentially documentary and realist character. In addition, Lacasse understands orality, and the bonimenteur figure in particular, as counter-hegemonic. Building on these ideas, my own enquiry seeks to question assumptions about the marginalization of the supernatural and to hypothesize its imbrication within Québec cinema’s oral structure, which thus becomes endowed with qualities that ultimately convey important information about Québec’s colonial and intercultural anxieties, and underscore ethical demands on the future. In this presentation, I will look alternately at local and global approaches to non-realist storytelling in Québec cinema. Starting with tales adapted for the cinema by Luc Picard from the oeuvre of popular Québécois conteur Fred Pellerin, I will attempt to ascertain how different cinematic treatments of the supernatural either establish its co-presence in the everyday or delimit the boundaries of its influence. I will then counterpoint the local specificity emphasized in Pellerin’s work with two examples of films that merge the functions of the fantastic and of the storyteller in a global context: François Girard’s The Red Violin (1998) and Denis Villeneuve’s Maelström (2000).”