“Archipelago”: A Dreamy and Poetic Journey: Toronto Hot Docs

Félix Dufour-Laperrière’s “Archipelago” is an animated dreamy poetic journey in which 12 different animators show their style of animation.

The narration is at times poetic and very fluid. This in contrast to an old newsreel narrated in a 1950’s style. I think the newsreel was called “Les ÎIes de St. Laurent” taking a voyage from Montreal to the Atlantic Ocean on the St. Lawrence River.

There is no easily described storyline that certain viewers of this documentary might find difficult to deal with. However one advantage it does have is the possibilities it opens up for the viewer to make a decision what the story is. When we watch a documentary we are used to having a clear-cut story or topic however in this documentary the viewer is free to give a interpretation of what the documentary is about and it could be there is no definable story but rather an excuse for very poetic narration and creative animation.

Perhaps a statement from Dufour-Laperrière might influence your interpretation of this documentary, “To finally try to stage an imaginary journey, like a notebook of interior wanderings, in the real and invented Quebec of yesterday and today, a past and a present that dialogue with those of the continent. I say it’s a very intimate film because, from the start, I put in it a lot of things that I love, from Hubert Aquin to my grandmother, through the stark, sumptuous landscapes of the Charlevoix region, for example. But what began as an intimate space quickly expanded and also became a look at a shared territory.”

At one point the narration leads one to believe it is the St. Lawrence River that is telling the story. At other times could it be God is telling the story or is it history or perhaps a combination of all these interpretations? That might be part of the fun.

Part of the story is the St. Lawrence River and the towns and islands on it as it traverses to the Atlantic Ocean. The newsreel footage presents a Quebec of yesteryear. There are a few political comments that pop up in a discrete but unmistakeable fashion such as Montreal is the second largest French city in the world yet English is spoken there.

This 72-minute film from 2021 is from Quebec and is in French with English subtitles. It is having its North American premiere at Toronto Hot Docs and is available throughout Canada only. It will be opening in Quebec theatres in the fall of 2021. You can purchase tickets here https://hotdocs.ca/p/hot-docs-festival

You can see the trailer here https://vimeo.com/493531565

The film is available up to May 9th.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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