I am formal. Never have we produced so many quality documentaries as in the past three years. The best of them have absolutely nothing to envy, in terms of dramatic arc, inventiveness of the graphic packaging, rhythm of the assembly, quality of the soundtrack, to what is done best , at the moment, elsewhere. I obviously haven’t seen it all, but here are the ones that captivated me in 2022.
Nordic Canadians. Rivalry (True). For the past year, my palme d’or goes to this series from the brains of Réjean Tremblay and Mathias Brunet. Note, I’m not a hockey buff, I’m only during the playoffs, and then again. But in addition to straddling the energy inherent in the Quebec-Montreal duel, the series opens a series of doors, covers a succession of episodes that take us from astonishment to enthusiasm, from sadness to rage. The use of archives, the wealth of testimonies are superb.
We come out of the obviously nostalgic viewing of the time of this heroic confrontation, attached to its actors, but convinced that the commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, was an architect of the departure of the Nordiques in Colorado in 1995 and that he is personally responsible for the failure of the team’s return, which should have taken place in 2016. We are reminded that the owners of the Canadiens weighed in to delay the Nordiques’ entry into the NHL before 1979 and we do not believe a moment, despite the denials of Geoff Molson, that they still do not block his return today.
Presumed innocent. The Michelle Perron affair (Noovo). The research carried out by Marie-Claude Savard and Sébastien Trudel for their series is of such quality that they add new elements to the file which, so well known at the time, could have prevented the acquittal of director Gilles Perron in his second trial for the murder of his wife. Access to recordings of private conversations and several actors in the drama makes the series truly Hitchcockian.
Janette and girls (Télé-Québec). Léa Clermont-Dion does justice to the enormous contribution of Janette Bertrand to the evolution of mores in Quebec. This woman, says Guylaine Tremblay, “has made Quebec foolish”. Even those who think they know her well discover the extent and precocity of her feminism, including her attention to supporting men in their loss of power. Its anticlericalism, including its intervention on the charter of values, is treated with admirable tact, including by feminists like Martine Delvaux. A precious document.
Lovaganza. The Great Illusion (True). A great people produces great crooks. So it is our case, with this bewildering story. The alleged filmmakers Jean-François Gagnon and Geneviève Cloutier defrauded 20 million from 650 investors, mainly Quebecers, on the strength of a gigantic cinema project which they said was supported by Steven Spielberg and Disney. The story of the floueurs and the floués presented with talent and aplomb by Aude Leroux-Lévesque and Sébastien Rist is nothing short of sensational. Scammers are still running around.
Corruption. The shocking revelations of the Charbonneau commission (Crave). In five episodes, this series by Sébastien Trahan, with André Noël and Alain Roy on the screenplay, puts back in clear order what we learned about the paradise for crooks that the world of construction and engineering had become in Quebec in the years 2000-2010. The fifth episode, devoted to Quebec Liberal Partyhowever today is only an archival record, since all the prosecutions have miraculously disappeared or failed.
DISCO (VAT/True). The series directed by Charles Gervais would certainly have benefited from being tightened up and better packaged, but it reveals the unsuspected importance (by me, anyway) that Montreal and its singers have held in this global phenomenon, its liberating role for women , gays and interracial cohabitation, and its dark side — drugs, mafias, predatory producers. To discover.
The Order of the Solar Temple (True).The massacres and collective suicides carried out by the Order of the Solar Temple at the end of the 1990s are recounted with talent by Jean-François Poisson, who follows police and journalistic investigations and interviews survivors. Despite the hindsight, few new elements stand out, but the whole thing sends shivers down the spine.
On TV5Unis. I listened happily The Bardot Mysteryto discover to what extent, at the turn of the 1960s, the “bardofolie” could prevail. Buddhism, the law of silence reveals how pederasty and sexual assault are not just a matter for Catholics and how the culpable silence of previous popes finds an echo in that of the Dalai Lama.
I also learned a lot with Ghosts unmasked, on the original creepy novels – which had nothing to do with the films of Louis de Funès – and on the fact that in the USSR at the time, deprived of James Bond because of censorship, the films were famous , the very name of Fantômas becoming subversive. Elsewhere in France, the year began with a shocking documentary on Islamic zones in French cities, Islamism, Investigation of a threat (BFMTV, also available on YouTube), which earned many threats to its journalist Ophélie Meunier.
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The Golden Age of Quebec Documentaries