Vancouver Queer Film Festival: Montreal director Jeanne Crépeau's tale of eviction resonates with Vancouverites
When Quebec directorJeanne Crépeau made her feature film La fille de Montréal, she worried—rather unnecessarily—that the subject was too personal. The keenly observed film, infused with affectionate humour, focusses on Ariane (Amélie Grenier), who is being evicted from the cramped, deteriorating apartment she's inhabited for 25 years in Montreal.
But after Crépeau traveled the film festival circuit with the film, she said she became aware of how prevalent eviction problems were in other cities.
"I'm actually a little bit embarrassed to present a film about housing in Vancouver," she said during a Q&A session at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival on August 20, "because in Montreal, in my neighbourhood, it's poor people that were replaced by middle-class people, but I guess here it's middle-class housing that is replaced by…condos that look very, very nice. But there are actually people who can afford those places, I was wondering?"
Nonetheless, the theme resonated with Vancouver's own audiences, when her film was shown for the VQFF's Director's Spotlight.
In fact, local director Aerlyn Weissman (Little Sister's vs. Big Brother), who hosted the chat, said she herself was the victim of an eviction. (What's more, former city councillor Ellen Woodsworth, who also happens to be a lesbian, is also facing eviction and issued a call for help for Vancouver renters facing eviction a few week ago.) Weissman observed that the usual inciting incident in films is a tragedy or murder, but in this case, it's an eviction notice.
The soft-spoken Crépeau explained that she received an eviction note herself in real life and the film started as a documentary about it. She revealed that the film was actually shot in her apartment (although the contents weren't all hers).
Although she noted one of the upsides is that she could film whenever she wanted to, she discourges other filmmakers from following in her footsteps.
"It's a nice idea but then you have 15 people crew in your apartment and it doesn't always turn out very well," she said, receiving laughter from the audience.
Then again, she acknowledged that there were benefits afterwards, in her particular case. "Now I have good electricity because we had to change the electricity because otherwise it would be a fire in this apartment….And I have clear water now."
In the film, Ariane simultaneously hunts for a new apartment while looking back over her life, her friends and neighbourhood, and her extensive collection of endless belongings and obsolete technology that she just can't let go of (floppy disks, anyone?).
When asked whether or not there'll be a sequel, she said she has considered it. But she's facing some resistance.
"I have a house in the country," she said. "And my girlfriend and all my friends are trying to restrain me from shooting this in my house."