Malartic (top) and Our Maternal Home (below) | NFB

NFB Docs Malartic and Our Maternal Home Offer Distinct Perspectives from Quebec

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Two documentaries now streaming from the National Film Board of Canada offer personal journeys into the Quebec landscape. In Malartic, director Nicolas Paquet returns to the titular community after observing the plight of its citizens in The Golden Rule (2011), who were displaced from the homes in the Abitibi town to make room for a mine. His follow-up film returns to Malartic to see if the community enjoyed all the prosperity promised by the development of a gold mine.

Paquet observes a resource extraction company thriving at the expense of a community, as residents live with the many consequences that spill off from machines plundering the earth: environmental damage, noise pollution, and a lopsided distribution of wealth, among other problems. As Malartic traces a David versus Goliath struggle, though, the film grasps that the inequalities the townspeople face aren’t unique. Rather, they’re a reflection of status quo politics and economies that see one party strike it rich at the expense of another. Paquet’s doc offers an insightful exposé of systemic failure seen through the eyes of a community left to fend for itself.

Meanwhile, director Janine Windolph traces her story from Saskatchewan to the Waswanipi Cree First Nation in Quebec. About 300 km north of Malartic, the scenic background of Waswanipi evoke a reclamation of the land as Windolph and her family members reconnect with their roots and immerse themselves in practices and traditions that have endured for generations. Both films offer striking portraits of community in relation to the land and the powers we draw from it, and play in conversation as Paquet’s documentary observes the long-lasting consequences that a community pays for a corporation’s short term gain, while Windolph’s family heals by repairing connections severed by generations of colonialism.

Both films illustrate distinct perspectives and regional stories in Quebec that invite audiences to reflect upon their connection to the land, their responsibility to it, and the riches that deserve to be passed from one generation to the next.

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