In the late 1950s, most Quebecois directors worked with the National Film Board of Canada – but not René Bail, one of the rare filmmakers to produce his movies independently. His seminal work “Les Désœuvrés” (1959) incorporated several elements of Direct Cinema, which had emerged a year earlier with “Les Raquetteurs”. Despite the fact that his avant-garde film impressed and influenced Claude Jutra and his colleagues at the NFB, Bail considered it unfinished, and limited its release. Disabled and disfigured after a serious motorbike accident in 1972, the cinematographer sank into oblivion soon after. However, a few years before his death in October 2007, he miraculously managed to complete “Les Désœuvrés”, shooting new sequences and entirely re-editing the film.
Despite sinking into obscurity, René Bail was nevertheless the first filmmaker to make a feature-length fiction movie in Quebec. What’s more, “Les Désœuvrés” broke with convention by directing and filming the inhabitants of Pine Hill in their own village and talking in their own dialect. Richard Brouillette, our Quebecois co-programmer, played a major role in rehabilitating this director by working with him to complete his masterpiece. Pascale Ferland filmed them during this extraordinary challenge. In this documentary, she invites us to explore Bail’s work through excerpts from his films, whilst also revealing a marginal character who was nonetheless a key figure in Quebecois cinema.
Co-programmer of Focus Québec for Doc-Cévennes
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