Arts Theatre

The radical importance of gigues in Quebecois culture

Pas Perdus | Documentaires Scéniques presented this year at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde

The Théâtre du Nouveau Monde presented Pas Perdus from Feb. 24 to a crowded room filled with an excited public. 

The design and direction of the play was helmed by Émile Proulx-Cloutier and written by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, who also acted as a silent narrator. 

The performance was prefaced with a short reading of the Ukrainian play A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War to commemorate the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Theatres across Montreal read excerpts to signify their solidarity with Ukrainians. The crowd was extremely moved. 

The play centers around eight characters, who seem to at first live categorically different lives, but are in fact united by their passion for dance. They are introduced within their life stories, and how dancing gigue orients their existence. 

The Quebecois gigue was inspired by Irish stepdancing upon their immigration to Canada in the late 19th century. It is a lively dance that consists of steps, the last one being more emphasized.

It is danced alone or in front of an audience, usually in a room, each dancer revealing their steps. Most Quebec gigues dances are on a two by four tempo, while some places like Outaouais dance on three by four tempo. Gigue is a staple of Quebecois culture. 

Pas Perdus was conducted in a unique fashion, as characters did not speak, while a voiceover resonated between them, composed of excerpts from a podcast series Barbeau-Lavalette had created, centering the voices of the dancers. 

The actors were merely dialoguing through the movement of their bodies. This silence plays a symbolic role in the demonstration of dance as a language, and of spoken words as only parallel to the meaning of dance. They are introduced within their life stories, and how dancing gigues orients their existence. 

Each character is introduced separately, completing their daily tasks while the voiceover explains their lives. The first character, Réal, is from a rural town and spends his time knotting a pair of snowshoes and explains how dancing is a part of who he is, while others like Odile are presented in the workspace as the voiceover explains their life path, and what brought them to dance. 

This play questions the meaning gigue has in Quebecois culture, the shame that surrounds the dance, and the risk of forgetting it as time passes. 

The play layers on the tone of humour despite difficult times.

Barbeau-Lavalette discusses themes of shame around Quebecois culture, and how it directly produces erasure. One character talks about “collecting steps,” as she meets people within the gigues community, learns their unique steps, and is thus able to carry them with her. This prevents the steps from being erased, even when the person dancing gigue dies. 

Pas Perdus is a demonstration of the adaptation of Quebec culture to modern times, noting the importance of not constraining our history to the past. Although there are fewer people dancing gigue, culture cannot be forgotten. This play is an homage to preserving culture and steering it away from erasure. 

Arts Theatre

Manikanetish: What it means to belong

See the play at Jean-Duceppe Theatre from March 8 to April 8

Manikanetish is based on Naomi Fontaine’s novel by the same name. An author and teacher, Fontaine has published four books and translated various others. Manikanetish is her second novel, published in 2017, and her most recent work Shuni was published in 2019. 

This play is set in Uashat, a small Inuit community in Northern Quebec close to Sept-Îles. 

Most scenes are set in a high school classroom as the protagonist, Yammie, recalls her beginnings as a teacher to her son. 

Manikanetish discusses the author’s life as a teacher, while centering the voices of the children she teaches. Themes of death, resilience and belonging dominate. 

The resilience of these children is notably highlighted by the death of several of their relatives throughout the story. 

Fontaine plays a central role in the play, though her character is taken on by another actress. She acts as a parallel to herself, an omniscient character, of what she wished she had said. 

Though originally from Uashat, coming home to her community, Yammie finds that she is not accepted. She only speaks a bit of Innu, and admits not wanting to speak it because of her accent. She struggles with having left the community to study, and upon returning notices that the community has changed: she does not know anyone and is not trusted. 

This is notable in a scene where one student is disgusted that the teacher does not know why one of the students is struggling because their parent is dying. The community is so small and close that everyone knows everything about everyone, and Yammie at first does not fit into that space. 

Along the play, the director parallels the past and the present: what Yammie’s life could have been and what it is not. She voices spending her nights alone drinking wine, with a partner back in Quebec City, not making any time for herself. 

The first part of the play is conducted by her sadness and not understanding why her dream of being a teacher in Uashat is not what she thought. The second part focuses on the students’ strength facing the various hardships thrown at them. 

As the play goes on, she slowly constructs a relationship with her class as they start to understand her intentions. 

For instance, when Yammie shouts at a student for sleeping in class, Fontaine’s character mirrors her and talks to the student in an understanding tone, offering a more sympathetic response. This serves as representation of what she wished she had said in those difficult moments. 

The audience gets to know six characters, their perils and their passions, their difficult upbringing in a remote town far from access to healthcare, and surrounded by discrimination. For instance, one student with a child brings up the injustice of their lack of access to proper medical care, while another speaks about the few future prospects they have because of the racism they suffer in school. 

The play concludes with united voices saying “our voices are heard,” both defying the public to question their existence and showing the strength of their resilience.  

Arts Festival

Pushing the limits: The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour comes to Montreal

The 27th edition of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour came to Montreal this year from Jan. 18 to Jan. 21, offering a selection of films from jaw-dropping to heartbreaking. 

Tickets were completely sold out, as people were excited for the festival to be back in-person.

Out of a record submission rate of 453 films, the festival chose ten. 

Every film ranged from five to 45 minutes. The whole evening lasted for three hours. 

The first film, Colors of Mexico by Kilian Bron, featured a mountain biker riding the vibrant streets. The filmmaker played with shapes through architectural angles,  accentuating the beauty of the scenery and the danger of the sport. 

Doo Sar: A Karakoram Ski Expedition film showcased breathtaking footage from the Karakoram mountain range, located in the Kashmir region, featuring Polish duo Andrzej Bargiel and Jędrek Baranowski, who ice climbed to the peak in 12 hours, to then descend in 90 minutes. 

The short Walking on Clouds showed record-breaking highline athlete Rafael Bridi walking between two hot air balloons. The elegance of his movements and the perfect balance of his core seemed almost inconceivable. 

The film was poetic and stress-inducing enough to have the audience sitting on the edge of their seats as the highline trembled under Bridi’s weight. 

The 45-minute-long To the Hills and Back – Know Before You Go proposed a preventative approach to ultimate sports, narrating two storylines of adventurers having lost their loved ones in avalanches. 

The fast-paced editing did not leave much to the imagination, as the audience was propelled into the story. It warns that accidents are frequent. 

The Process, drenched in irony, follows mountaineer Tom Randall, seeking to complete a mountain running challenge over 42 peaks and across 142 kilometers in less than 24 hours. He humors taking on the challenge as a non-runner. 

Flow, follows skier Sam Favret, who decided to hike up a French Alpine resort during confinement, to enjoy the bare slopes. The ungraded slopes permitted breathtaking footage. 

Clean Mountains counts the tourist pollution on Everest from a Sherpa’s perspective, as one woman decides to climb Everest and while descending clears the mountain of tourist waste. 

Her father had lost his fingers helping a client tie his ice crampons, impeding him from continuing to work. His experience burdened the family and exposed the harm of unprepared tourists on Everest. 

North Shore Betty teaches the possibility of starting a new sport at any age. At 45, Betty took up mountain biking. On screen, she was 73. 

A Baffin Vacation trailered a couple on the struggles of ultimate sports on the body and mind. They comically preface their story by ridiculing their experience on the brawling effects of canoeing and mountain climbing. 

The light short Do a Wheelie concluded the festival positively, showing that ultimate sports weave communities together. 

The international documentary festival will tour around the province until the end of March.


Le roman de monsieur de Molière at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde: A review

Between modernism and traditionalism: the constant debate between Corneille and Molière

The theatre adaptation of Mikhaïl Boulgakov’s novel Le roman de monsieur de Molière by the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde comments on the playwright’s chaotic life, and paints a vivid picture of the anxieties of devoting one’s life to being an artist. 

The audience did not need to be an aficionado of Molière to understand the intricacies of the play. 

The newly-restored Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, following the fire that erupted in the building earlier this year, seated 800 people and was nearly full. Most of the audience seated in the orchestra seemed of retired age, while younger people sat in the balcony.  

Though Molière’s life has been profusely copied and reimagined, this performance is contrasted by the unique proximity between the author and Molière. 

The 20th-century Ukrainian author Mikhaïl Boulgakov, much like Molière, was an artist unrecognized for his genius. They were both censured and silenced for their prose, receiving recognition after their deaths. 

Boulgakov plays on this theme in his novel, as is also present throughout the play, standing on the sidelines observing his written work unravel in front of him. Boulgakov’s and Molière’s characters intertwine and untwine themselves to unite and individualize their realities. 

For instance, Boulgakov frequently uses the first-person singular when narrating the play, as if he was himself Molière. While the story unfolds, Boulgakov never leaves the stage: he stays still, as a spectator. 

The audience barely notices him, as his movements are often immobilized by his role as narrator. He uses asides when he notes something specific that cannot be translated into action. 

The two-hour play, without intermission, highlights the continual chaos that surrounded Molière’s life as he was exposed to the pitfalls of wanting to resemble the great Corneille in tragedy, while never receiving the appraisal he thought he merited. 

The show played between themes of modernity and tradition, the former being reflected by Molière and the latter by Corneille. Their rivalry occupied most scenes, and made for a constant battle for mastering words that were both dramatic and entertaining. They played on words taken from their works while inlaying humorous formations as a form of satire. 

Jean de La Fontaine, the 17th-century French poet, was represented as a medium between the two. His character spoke his lines comically, referring to his previous works quite humourisly.

Boulgakov narrated Molière’s life as he acted on stage. This gave the audience a deeper understanding of his inner thoughts. There were short representations taken from his other plays, namely L’écoles des femmes, L’Avare and Tartuffe. 

Molière and his company L’Illustre Thêatre would often play out scenes that foreshadowed the well-known plays that would then be created. For example, when Molière was sick, and his wife Armande responded that no doctor would come to see him because of his work, the audience understood that Le médecin malgré lui had been written. 

The audience could understand the chronology of the story and Molière’s rising fame through costume changes. The dresses of the comedians became fancier and more intricate, and the vest Molière wore went from simple black to polished silver — a symbol of his rising social standing as a comedian who was being acknowledged. 

The first scene mirrors the last, as a bath is used for Molière’s birth and death. 
The show will go on tour across the province beginning Jan. 18.


The Salon du Livre de Montréal: a wonderful abode for book lovers

From Nov. 23 to Nov. 27 Montrealers had the privilege to enjoy books from the francophone world

As one entered the Salon du Livre, they were immediately greeted by the Agora, which served to host author interviews and book readings. People were given maps that displayed the names of the publishing houses around the immense space that is the Palais des Congrès.

Despite the venue’s cold appearance, the salon was able to add life to its walls, with colourful posters and shelves of publishers that extended across the broad space. 

The salon occupied the space with colourful tables, couches and plants to give it life, encouraging people to sit and read their new purchases.  

The morning of Sunday, Nov. 27 was buzzing with people, making it hard to move without being pushed, as patrons were wandering aimlessly into the vast world of literature. 

The salon had accessible prices and was free for visitors under 12, it also included spaces reserved for kids. It was clear they wanted to promote reading to a young audience.

On Saturday night, people were exhausted from Black Friday shopping, evident from visitors walking slowly, tired looking writers, and the staff seemed ready for their workday to end.

Authors were seated on odd pedestals in front of their respective publishing houses. When no one came to sign their work, their only distraction was a mere cup of water and their own books. 

The pedestals seemed in no way effective as very few people were having their books signed, unless the writer was someone already well-known. 

The Salon had organized a series of talks with authors.

Expert of Quebecois horror literature Patrick Sénécal gave a hilarious talk presenting his new book Résonances. On that Saturday night, he seemed exhausted, as he answered in a more relaxed cadence than his usual character. 

He discussed how most people think he must be mentally insane to write such disturbing novels, to which he responded “I’m just like everyone else.” 

These series of talks served to humanize authors as people, not idols. Novelist Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette echoed Sénécal’s words, talking about finishing a book: “Once it’s out it belongs to you [the readers].”

She discussed her two recent books, Femme forêt and Femmes fleuve, which distinguish themselves greatly from her previous autobiographical work. Both harbour metaphorical verses, and propose to the reader a storyline following nature’s cycle. 

She noted that these books were the first time her writing did not depict her life specifically: “It’s the first time that this is not about me.”

She discussed her recent film Chien Blanc, noting that film was an interesting avenue in itself, but her preferred medium was writing, and at least in the near future she would stick to that.

She confessed, among other things, the difficulties in finding Romain Gary’s hermit son in the Spanish countryside to obtain the rights to make the novel into a film. 

“Writing is a solitary voyage,” she noted, whereas film involves teamwork and the considerations of different people. 

Wendat journalist Geneviève Pettersen namely spoke about her new book La reine de rien, a sequel from her first novel La Déesse des mouches à feu as an adult. 

She said she wrote a sequel because everyone kept on asking her what had happened to Catherine, the main character, and in her mind, it was obvious that she simply continued living. 

This coming-of-age story, which takes place in Chicoutimi, explored the ease of falling into bad habits and wanting to revolt. It received immense acclaim upon its release in 2021. It was even made into a film directed by the aforementioned Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette. 

Beyond the bookworm aspect of book fairs, the salon had a noticeable commercial aspect to it. The books were not affordable, averaging in the mid-$30 price range. The clear intent was consumerism. Though the principal theme was books, the available seating was not comfortable enough for visitors to be entirely absorbed by a book. Talks that revolved around authors were centered around buying the copy to then get it signed. Not a single person was seen leaving the Salon without a book in hand. 

Salons du Livres happen around the world, on a yearly basis.


Pushing The boundaries of the attainable through circus: A photo essay

Cabaret de Cirque 2022 at Le Monastère From Nov. 4 to Nov. 12

Le Monastère Cabaret de Cirque is located in the St-Jax Church on St-Catherine, and is two minutes’ walk away from the Sir Geroge William campus of Concordia University. 

Before the show started, the room turned pitch black for a few seconds, with only the faint light from the stained glass church windows being visible. The room was in utter silence, excitement running through the crowd, until the lights flashed blue, and the first act began. 

The performances could be felt quite powerfully, especially from a vantage point high up on the altar. As the music detoned, it resonated through the wooden stage and through our bodies — it felt as if the crowd became actors in the performance. 

For the first presentation, aerialist Tanya Burka performed mid-air tricks on aerial silk. Her movements were light and composed. She moved in a way that seemed effortless, with the strength of her arms and core. She wrapped herself slowly, ending on a cascade down; the audience gasped, fearing the silk would not hold her.

In this second photo, Burka is holding on mid-air, only by the strength of her upper leg and ankle. The colours of the light, matching with her suit, mirror her movement as the audience remained captured by her every movement. 

Emcee Johnny Filionis is playing with balance, a pole held by his mouth is topped by a plate as he juggles two other. The whole affair was quite a spectacle to see, as the level of multitasking was impressive to the audience. 

Filion worked through the show to create a sense of discomfort within the crowd. Circuses ask the audience to interact with performances, pushing people out of their comfort zones.

This performance was set to create a sentiment of unease within the audience, while Filion hardly held his balance, people were on the edge of their seats watching.

The fourth performance showcased Maude Parent, a contortionist, as she demonstrated her extreme physical flexibility, contorting her arms, wrists and back to degrees that seemed almost subhuman. 

Her movements were sometimes pushed so out of the ordinary, that people in the crowd looked away or covered their eyes, waiting for the act to end. 

Despites some movements that disturbed our gaze, the dramatic effect of her contortions kept most of the audience fixated and excited to see what her next movement would be.

In a later act, Maude Parent comes back to the stage singing, accompanied by Marton Maderspach on the piano. The light fell only on the two of them, while the rest of the large room remained pitch black. Her voice echoed within the heights of the church, resonated within our bodies, producing a sentiment of excitement within the crowd.

The last act before the intermission was of Antoine Boissereau with aerial straps. The first part of his performance was the most impressive. As one arm was caught in the strap, it held his whole body, while he performed several figures with extreme precision.

His performance was accompanied by heavy techno music and a sharp white light accentuating his body as the audience was fixated in awe.

Laurie Bérubé and Catherine Beaudet performed a hand-to-hand duo, moving in synchronicity as their bodies were dispossessed of their natural purposes, serving as balancing grounds for one another. Though each movement was calculated, the ease with which their bodies moved together made the audience feel as if they were moving in complete natural spontaneity. The elevation and rigid balance of their pantomime was breathtaking.

Esteban Immer completed figures on the chinese pole, which was approximately six feet tall. He climbed up, slid down and stopped for figures. His poses showed his incredible strength, whether he was perpendicular to the bar, sliding down from his feet, or rotating his legs around the pole. Sometimes his legs were the only part holding his whole body hanging from the pole.

The last act was by Emily Chilvers on an aerial rope. Intense opera music accompanied her performance, which gave it more power. The lighting for her act was pink, which was much dimmer than the previous ones. As she wrapped herself with velocity, the light sometimes did not catch her movement and she seemed to be a completely separate entity —  as if her own being transcended the performance out of pure passion.


The lightness of paradise and the reality of purgatory embodied by the new Marie Chouinard production

A dance production imitating Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights 

Jérôme Bosch’s dance production was created by choreographer Marie Chouinard in honour of the painter’s 500th death anniversary. The performances took place at Usine C, located in the Gay Village, based on the famous oil painting located in El Prado in Madrid. 

The space is made of concrete and the stage can be accessed by climbing steps. When one walks in, it appears vast, as sounds resonate and are heightened from one corner to the other. There’s even a bar on the lower level.

The performance was organized in three acts, representing Bosch’s triptych painting. It started with a display of paradise in the centre, followed by the purgatory from the right panel, and ended with the joining of Adam and Eve from the left panel. 

The final show was entirely full, tickets completely sold out. It was exhilarating to sense the excitement in the room at a representation of a painting admired by so many. 

Before the dancers appeared, a screen in the back showed the painting of the earthly delights, closing up on scenes that would be imitated. 

As the act of paradise started, dancers entered the stage with animalistic movement, the first two resembling insects. The dancers entered one after the other, moving with inhuman contortions.

As they came on and off the stage, two rounded screens on either side of the stage showed the details in the painting that were being imitated in the dance. These imitations were both remarkable and hilarious, as the dancers contorted their bodies to emulate Bosch’s characters. 

Though the dancers were nearly naked, save a small string over their lower stomach, there was nothing that could be sexually perceived, as their movements were so deformed from anything remotely human. 

The superfluous movements captured spectators’ attention and at times produced bouts of laughter in the crowd. 

The second act made everyone regret the first. As purgatory descended upon us, we were submerged in darkness. Light fell slowly on one dancer, who was standing on two buckets yelling into a mic in her hands as she contorted her body at disturbing angles. 

Screeches echoed across the room; maddening noises — sounds that traumatize the mind — building craze within the audience. 

Even when the sentiment of true purgatory was sensed in the audience, the dancer did not stop her shrieks. This served to push the comfort levels of the audience, and show a very real instance of hell, as horrid sounds were uttered into the mic, everyone was regretting paradise. 

Witnessing her distortions and hearing her cries produced a sentiment of insanity within me, that I could not brush away for hours after the performance. 

Subsequently, dancers entered the scene creating a catastrophe within their purgatorial movements. As one dancer was shown repeatedly sliding off stairs never reaching the top, another was running around widely shoving their head into a dumpster. They were all moving randomly, acts of utter strangeness, creating an immense racket. 

The final triad was from the Garden of Eden. Two eyes were displayed on either screen, showing Adam waking, and staying in a trance as he gazed at Eve. 

The actors’ movements were so slow in this episode that it seemed impossible. Dancers who previously seemed utterly distraught were now united in synchronized movements, representing either Adam or Eve, in duos. They metamorphosed into a paradise form far from reality, cutting off from the previous hell.  

When the performance ended, the dancers were showered with claps from the audience. People stood up and applauded for over five minutes, which is quite a while in the realm of appraisal. Emulations of paradise and purgatory were created with such precision that they could be felt by the audience. This impeccable work left spectators stunned at the beauty of it.


Montreal: a city as racially divisive as any other

Cinema Politica screened Dear Jackie, a telling film about Montreal’s Black history

Dear Jackie is organized as a letter to Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional baseball player. This letter serves as a narration of the context of the film, over images of the city. 

Though Robinson’s story is that of success, his storyline is only a pretext to talk about the broader context of discrimination against Black folks in Canada, and specifically Montreal. 

Director Henri Pardo noted during the Q&A session:

“My intent was not to talk about certain things that I am personally tired of talking about. I didn’t want to talk about racism, I wanted to find out about the people in the neighbourhood”. 

Black people were resigned to only settling in a single neighborhood of Montreal in the 1940s, that of Little Burgundy. It was coined the “Harlem of the North.” 

This film depicts the injustices faced by Black people in Montreal and the changing architectural landscape of Little Burgundy, and how it has changed up to today. 

In the 1960s, when the government built a highway cutting off parts of the neighbourhood, they razed over 400 Black homes, leaving hundreds of people in the streets. 

Today, Little Burgundy is one of the most gentrified neighbourhoods in Montreal. 

Pardo wanted to raise awareness of the little-known history of Black struggles in Quebec, as a call to action.

The film was in black-and-white, which served as a ground for the universalization of experience, where colour could not be understood as a means for separation. 

From a journalist’s perspective, there were clear visual obstacles. The story in of itself, though historically valuable, had an odd angle. 

There was very little archival footage of Little Burgundy and the medium of narration through epistolary form felt forced and almost out of place, as few images of Robinson concretely appeared on screen. 

It would have been interesting to centre interviews of people who lived in Little Burgundy, rather than minimal archival footage that has very little connection to the area. 

The community centre NCC kept on coming up, but there was next to no archival footage of it. People’s spoken words dit not fit the images that were displayed on screen, which made the film at times hard to watch. 

Cinema Politica seeks to not only screen important political films but to also relate community organizations in Montreal that advocate for the causes demonstrated in their films. Representative of organizations such as Brick by Brick and one of their sub-groups Plan Accueil discussed their work in trying to make housing more accessible. 


Another film stemmed from white guilt disguised under the title of Love

 Review of Cinemania Festival’s opening film Chien Blanc

Acclaimed author and filmmaker Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette brought forth her new film Chien Blanc as the opening film of the 28th edition of the Cinemania Festival. 

Her 2015 novel La Femme qui fuit received a lot attention owing to its  second-person narration of Lavalette’s grandmother’s life. 

Because of the acclaim she received from her novel and the various films she has made in the past such as Nelly, from the novel Putain by author Nelly Arcan, it was fair to have high expectations for this release. 

Cinemania hopes to bring francophone cinema to an international spotlight and help these films achieve recognition. For this year’s edition of the festival, organizers hoped to engage audiences with relevant socio-political issues. The festival’s country of honour this year is Luxembourg, which will bring the country’s French cinema and culture to the foreground. 

Beyond film screenings, the festival also organizes roundtables, conferences, concerts and an exhibit at the PHI Centre. 

Chien Blanc was a result of Barbeau-Lavalette questioning her identity as a white person. For many, the murder of George Floyd in 2020 was a reality check. It brought more awareness to the struggles of people of colour — and for Barbeau-Lavalette, this awareness translated into a historical film. 

“This is not a documentary,” states Lavalette in the Q&A session. The film, however, is composed in parallel to the narrative of archival footage of Black struggles from the Civil Rights movement of 1954-68 to the Black Lives Matter protests from last year. 

It is controversial that, though a Canadian artist herself, Barbeau-Lavalette chose to depict racism in the U.S.but ignored similar racist trends in her own province of Quebec, whose prime minister openly stated that “systemic racism does not exist.” 

Even though the film only has a runtime of ninety minutes, it seems to drag on much longer. This was in part due to the awkward editing. The audience barely had the opportunity to draw breath after dramatic scenes before the narration would quickly resume. 

It is noticeable that Barbeau-Lavalette does not come from a filmmaking background. The metaphors used in the film were too on-the-nose, and provided little credibility. 

For instance, the first scene shows a boy playing with a toy dog, foreshadowing the upcoming story with a dog as the central character. In another instance, Romain Gary (author of the original novel Chien Blanc) writes the last words of his book, which seems to symbolize the universal finality of racism. He writes with pen on paper in the film as a metaphor of the final words of his novel. 

Barbeau-Lavalette touches upon the themes of white tears, but does not give them much depth. In a scene at the beginning of the film, a taxi driver is bringing Romain Gary to his home when we hear the news of Martin Luther King’s murder on the radio. Romain Gary overpays the driver — a direct symbol of white tears that  Barbeau-Lavalette herself noted in the Q&A  as “overcompensating his guilt by paying.” 

Strong metaphors can enhance a storyline, but in this case they felt forced — as if they were trying to entirely manipulate the audience’s experience rather than giving them a chance to think for themselves. 

The film does not flow very well as there are abrupt switches between images that make it, at times, an uncomfortable experience to watch. 

Though her initial claim of making the film about what it means to be a white ally is interesting, the angle she has taken in Chien Blanc only serves to further divide. A better angle to take would’ve been centring more Black voices, for instance. Characters like Ballard who Gary gets out of prison, seemed central to the story during the initial scenes were only shown briefly. 

Overall, the film was an interesting visual experience. The Cinema Imperial seating 800 people was entirely full. The audience was a diverse group that included school-going children and teenagers who would applaud at the end of every scene and laugh whenever an intimate scene would pop up on the screen. 

Though Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette is known for her prose, and the film is an accurate adaptation of Romain Gary’s novel Chien Blanc, I’m not sure that filmmaking is the best avenue for her talents. 


Is Bill 96 relevant in Montreal: What do polyglots at Mundo Lingo think?

Third and fourth-language speakers talk about learning French at the famous Mundo Lingo meetup

Mundo Lingo is an international project that promotes language exchange operating on four continents and thrives to make language learning accessible to all. The project was founded in 2011 by Benji Moreira, and the first event happened in Buenos Aires. Moreira wanted to organize a space where locals could practice foreign languages, and foreigners could practice Spanish; this eventually became a global event where people are welcome to practice any language. 

People that attend Mundo Lingo meetups come from all walks of life, old and young, international and local; they all come for one purpose: to discuss the languages they are learning and help people that are learning their own. 

Each participant is given sticker flags for the respective languages they speak and want to practice, to signal to other people which languages can be spoken in their interactions.

Several Mundo Lingo enthusiasts spoke about their opinions on Bill 96 which imposes the speaking of French in the workplace among other things. 

Courtesy of MUNDO LINGO

David Tousseau, an ambassador at Mundo Lingo who speaks French, English, Kinyarwanda, Spanish and Gaelic, says that as a university researcher, “linguistically I am not very involved politically,” and admitted to not really caring about Bill 96. He speaks these languages for patrimonial value, family relations and general interest. 

Others like Argentinian Joaquim Marubio, who speaks Spanish, English, and a bit of French, spoke against Bill 96. 

“Let me tell you something, Canada is part of a British Commonwealth, it belongs to Our Majesty, so we better speak English. Quebec is part of Canada, people need to speak English, it belongs to Our Majesty!” 

Marubio continued to praise the King and said that imposing French was ironic with regards to Quebec’s ties with the Commonwealth. 

Anthony Gagné, originally from Quebec, had opposite views to his friend Marubio.  He comes to Mundo Lingo to socialize and practice his languages. He speaks French, English, Italian and Portuguese, and is learning Chinese. 

“I think it’s a good law, we need to protect the language.” He says Montreal is a perfect example of a place where this law needs to exist. “There are two cultures, Bill 96 creates controversy, it’s taboo to talk about it, but we need to address it.” 

He added that “the province of Quebec runs Montreal and that makes for a rather interesting phenomenon,” referring to the recent elections, of a majority government not representing Montreal voters. 

He continued, “here it is sure that you will meet people that their French is a third, fourth language, but in everyday life there are not so many, but I really understand linguistically that French is complex, more complex than the other Romance languages” 

Two women speaking in Spanish stated that they really appreciated being there, because everyone was so friendly, and it allowed them to practice French without shame. They said that in their workplaces they did not feel comfortable practicing their French because they only speak a bit of it. 

Whether it be in language circles or the streets of Montreal, there is a lot of divide on questions of language protection and Bill 96 more specifically. What is certain is Mundo Lingo provides a space where people can share in any language they desire without fear of being shamed for having an accent. 


Bug-eating: a whole gastronomical experience

The Montreal Insectarium recently introduced entomophagy

With the climate rapidly changing, water is becoming less and less accessible. As the need to change the way we eat becomes more and more apparent, food industries are shifting, presenting new forms of food. 

Chef-consultant Daniel Vézina, commissioned by Espace pour la vie, developed a series of edible insect snacks. Between Nov. 2 – 5 these snacks were served at a kiosk at Le Central. 

“Insects have a lot of vitamins, and proteins, it’s very relevant to make people discover them,” said Elena Zumaran Vasquez, operations coordinator for Les Amis de insectarium. 

Zumaran Vasquez explained that her organization specifically works for insect consumption, a practice known as entomophagy. It’s owing to this collaboration with David Vézina that she now believes more strongly that people are more willing to eat insects: “People don’t necessarily see them, they are presented in a different form,  where they are integrated into the food.”. 

Though insect-eating is not part of Canadian culture, it is a common snack in some countries like Thailand and South Africa. In Thailand, for instance, is it typical to eat fried grasshoppers, crickets, and even worms. 

The tasting at Le Central offered four sample foods. There were green hard candies, made from ant sugar and balsam fir. The flavour of the ant sugar was not very strong and did not taste any different from the candies we are used to. 

For salty snacks, there were seaweed chips creamed with a tomato tapenade, mixed with mealworm and seaweed dulse. Apart from being extremely salty, they were good. 

The second salty snack was the one that people most feared eating. It was caramelized lime almonds with whole grasshoppers. This was the only tasting with a whole insect in it; and despite their sour lime taste, they tasted good. Nevertheless, I’m not sure if I would eat them like I would eat a bag of chips. 

Zumaran Vasquez noted that the reactions to the tastings were quite diverse. 

“There’s a lot of positive feedback and a lot of interest. At first people are reluctant, but most of them end up trying [it].” 

The insects were so processed with the other ingredients that it was barely noticeable that one was eating insects, except for the almond snack, where the grasshopper was in its complete form. 

Despite the original idea behind the snacks being the high nutritional value of insects, these bites were so mixed in sugar and salt that it begs the question, would people even eat these if they were not processed with so many unhealthy ingredients? 

A suitable analogy would be that of vegan food industries sometimes trying hard to imitate a taste, only to end up making an extremely unhealthy product. Is the avenue of making foods universal for singular palates through imitation necessarily good, or should the food industry shift entirely to proposing foods completely different from what we know? 

The crowd of people lined around the kiosk all seemed to enjoy the snacks. Some were more reluctant at first, especially with regards to the almond and grasshopper snack, but after tasting them, many people were pleasantly surprised. 

It was only fifteen minutes subsequent to the tasting that my palate tasted strongly of insects. The unfamiliar lingering taste of grasshoppers stayed on my tongue longer than I would’ve liked. 

It is indisputable that insects offer a great nutritional value and fill you up. Perhaps our Canadian bodies merely need to adapt to changing gastronomies and the possibility of insect consumption. 

Photographs by Catherine Reynolds/THE CONCORDIAN


SIGHT+SOUND: a festival that expands beyond linear definitions of art

Dancing While Waiting (for the end of the world): an exhibit that makes you question the intermediate between one’s body and the inevitable apocalypse

The 12th edition of the digital art festival, SIGHT+SOUND, took place at the Eastern Bloc from Oct. 26 to 30, and performances will continue until Nov. 12.  It’s a festival that primarily aims to provide a platform for emerging artists.

The curators of SIGHT+SOUND are Sarah Ève Tousignant and Nathalie Bachand. 

After two years of moving to an online format during the pandemic, this edition of the festival comes in full force as people are able to interact with the artwork in-person once again. 

The Eastern Bloc was founded in 2007 and is an art center that brings together technology, art, and science. It provides a laboratory space, proposes workshops, and hosts exhibits. SIGHT+SOUND’s theme this year is Dancing While Waiting (for the end of the world). 

The festival is composed not only of an exhibition section but also of a series of dance performances and musical and audio works/installations. It plays between the grounds of definable and uncategorizable artwork. Venues are located all across Montreal. 

The main exhibit was packed into a small rectangular room. Upon entering, one was immediately drawn to a table on the right side of the room that was organized with a series of pillow computers and screens. 

Table at entrance of exhibit – ESTHER MORAND/THE CONCORDIAN

On the left, visitors could raise a tablet over hanging clothes, and view a green body shaped into a dress through the screen. 

Screens were installed at either end of the room, displaying videos of artists’ works. People could use headphones to listen, which created a sense of isolation from the rest of the exhibit as visitors’ eyes and ears were entirely fixated on the short video. Strange and almost human-like figures appeared on the screens. 

In the middle of the room, two large panels perpendicular to each other showed two video screenings simultaneously, while a TV lodged at an angle displayed a TV prompter. One video, tinted in red, showed a woman racing, while the other displayed dancing bodies — some drawn, and some in live-action. 


The sharp contrast of black words on the white screen offered a clear reflection of the seriousness of the statement. The text was set as a sort of conversation, discussing climate anxiety and the inability of humanity to focus on saving itself. 

The festival sought to retract individuals from their preconditioned lives surrounded by technology, and allow them to reflect on their states of servitude. It was intended to bring awareness to social spaces, and reappropriate what it means to be in contact with one another.

Exit mobile version