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July 2022

Éléphant at Fantasia

Every summer for more than 10 years, Éléphant has presented a few films from its catalogue at the Fantasia International Film Festival, the largest genre film festival in North America. The collaboration gives festival audiences a chance to see restored Québec classics on the big screen again—and to make some fortuitous discoveries of lesser-known works that had vanished from the public eye.

Two feature films restored by Éléphant will be shown at Fantasia this year: Bingo (1974) by Jean-Claude Lord on July 21 at 6:30 p.m., and Manette (la folle et les dieux de carton) (1967), Camil Adam's only feature film, on August 1 at 6:30 p.m. The screenings will be at the Cinémathèque Québécoise. Admission is free.


Throughout his prolific career in film and television, Jean-Claude Lord, who passed away earlier this year, considered himself more of a mass communicator than an artist. What he loved most was telling stories to mass audiences.

His third feature film, Bingo, was a box-office hit when it was released in 1974. It's a political film loosely based on the October Crisis, but Lord actually wrote the screenplay before October 1970. He had to submit the project more than once and achieve success with Les colombes (The Doves, 1972) before he was able to get financing for Bingo. In an  in-depth interview with Éléphant in 2020, Lord talked about the making of the film:

"The theme of Bingo is very simple: it's about the age-old story of politicians who create turmoil so they can get elected on a law-and-order platform. That was my motivation in the film. I wanted to show that even if you're a young person who's full of good will and wants to change the world, you can be manipulated by people who want to use you for their own ends. And it got people talking… At the time, there were far-right politicians who were delivering speeches written by Jacques Matti. In Bingo, the right-wing extremist's lines are lifted word-for-word from that discourse." 
The film stars Réjean Guénette, Anne-Marie Provencher, Jean Duceppe, Claude Michaud and Gilles Pelletier. Before the screening on Thursday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m., the Fantasia Festival's Denis-Héroux Award will be presented to producer Pierre David, who produced several of Lord's films.

See the Fantasia website for details.

Very loosely based on the events of October 1970, Bingo starts as a love story between college students Geneviève and François. Then, during a violent strike at the factory where his father works, François becomes politically aware and involved with a small group of activists. He soon becomes a terrorist without realizing that he is being manipulated. 
Film fact sheet
Manette (la folle et les dieux de carton)

The collection of rare gems unearthed by Éléphant now includes Camil Adam's Manette (la folle et les dieux de carton), the restored version of which will be shown at the Fantasia Festival on August 1. What is known about Camil Adam? Not much, even though the vagaries of alphabetical order have made him the first person listed in Michel Coulombe and Marcel Jean's Dictionnaire du cinéma québécois

We learn that he started out as a musician, then worked as a film editor, notably with Claude Jutra, and directed two short films, Silence on tourne (1958) and Au plus petit d'entre nous (1962), which won an award at the Montréal International Film Festival. He made his first and only feature film, Manette (la folle et les dieux de carton), in 1964, but it wasn't released until 1967 and did not fare well at the box office. He then moved away from cinema and became a music editor but wrote and directed some scenes of the film L'apparition (The Appearance, 1972).

Manette (la folle et les dieux de carton) is his most ambitious contribution to Québec cinema but remains largely unknown, even to the most fervent Québec film buffs. Totally self-produced, Manette is an astonishing film that is boldly experimental and also repays attention as a sociological document on the mid-1960s.

In the early years of Québec's Quiet Revolution, a young woman's quest for love turns into a neurotic spiritual quest that takes her on a journey through orientalism (via yoga) Québec nationalism (in the wake of the RIN), sadomasochism, the pleasures of yé-yé music (the band Les Baronets) and underground poetry (Claude Gauvreau). The film is packed and dense, the voice-over narration and problematic post-synchronization can be grating, but there are also experimental scenes of raw poetic power, such as the kaleidoscopic shot clearly inspired by Vertov, and the ethereal reverse-image shot of swimmers in the water.

Daring, experimental and flawed, Manette was a failure when it was released in 1967, but watching it today gives us a window on a heady time when Québec youths, recently freed from the straitjacket of Catholicism, were seeking new experiences and turning to new ideologies. The film wonderfully embodies the spirit of the age, and the Manette character can be seen as a precursor of Valérie and the girls in L'initiation.

Manette takes us back to the avant-garde ferment of the mid-1960s—on the dividing line between the Duplessis era and the Quiet Revolution, and also between the early films of Jutra and Groulx and the films of Denis Héroux. It has the typical virtues and defects of a Baroque work. Some viewers will be captivated by its mix of moral ambiguity and moments of grace, embedded in a disjointed narrative; others will be exasperated.

The film stars Mariette Lévesque, Léo Ilial, Yvan Canuel and Jen Roger. It will be shown on Monday, August 1 at 6:30 p.m.

See the Fantasia website for details

Manette (la folle et les dieux de carton) is a singular film about the spiritual and amorous quest of a liberated young woman in Québec at the dawn of the Quiet Revolution. Her journey through De Sade, Claude Gauvreau, Les Baronets and Hatha yoga is a stunning exploration of themes that were edgy at the time and would shape the new trends and spiritual renewal of the 1960s.
Film fact sheet
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