York features provocative film Le Nèg (The Negro)

Last week the York community was treated to a provocative new feature film, Le Nèg (The Negro) by Quebec film and video artist Robert Morin. In fact, the audience had the privilege of meeting Morin himself, who presented his film. It was shown at the Nat Taylor Cinema as part “The Independents”, a series of screenings and discussions on independent Canadian cinema organized by York”s Graduate Program in Film & Video.

The following account was submitted to Y File by the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Le Nèg

has been generating equal amounts of critical acclaim and heated debate for its controversial representation of racism in the Quebec countryside. The film tells the story of a police investigation of a murder in rural Quebec: a young black man destroys a racist lawn ornament, triggering a chain of events that apparently leads to a woman”s death. Using a highly distinctive visual style, the film cuts between stark realism and a world of technicolour lawn ornaments come to life, raising provocative questions about perception, truth and reality.

Robert Morin (right) wrote and directed the film, which has garnered multiple Genie nominations (Best Original Screenplay, Production Design, Costumes, Film Editing). To view some images of Le Nèg visit http://www.christalfilms.com/leneg/.

David McIntosh, longtime programmer for the Perspective Canada series at the Toronto International Film Festival, led a discussion following the screening.

Morin has been making a significant contribution to Quebec cinema for nearly 30 years with a series of very personal films. A founding member of La Coopérative de Production Vidéo de Montréal, he has created some 30 short, medium-length and feature films. His productions include Requiem pour un beau sans-coeur (1992), named best Canadian feature at the 1992 Toronto International Film Festival; Windigo (1994); and Quiconque meurt, muert á douleur (1997).

Film scholar David McIntosh has worked as a writer, curator and producer for many years. He has programmed Canadian cinema in venues around the world and has written extensively on Canadian film for a wide variety of national and international publications, including the book Canada et ses cinémas, published by the Centre Pompidou to commemorate its comprehensive retrospective of Canadian cinema held in 1990. He also writes regularly on a range of contemporary culture, art and technology issues.

“The Independents” series focuses on filmmakers and film scholars who are forging new and innovative paths in their discipline. The aim is to foster an ongoing debate between filmmaker/video artist and film scholars and students. To that end, each filmmaker is paired with a scholar who develops critical contexts, theoretical probes and historical overviews through which particular works might be considered.

“The Independents” takes place on the last Thursday of every month during the academic year.

Featured next in the series will be The Sweet Hereafter with filmmaker Atom Egoyan and scholar Ian Balfour on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 6pm in Curtis Lecture Hall L. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.