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The social issues films of Arthur Lamothe (1968-1972)

Double programme at the Musée de la civilisation on May 16th.

In this spring of 2012, Antitube will be presenting a series of social issues films directed by Arthur Lamothe between 1968 et 1972. The filmmaker is known for his films directed with First Nations people (and especially with Innus) and he has invented a very unique way of filming that is still relevant to this day. How can a citizen filmmaker show injustice and the poison of conformity by confronting these issues with the necessary politicization of citizens? How can he achieve this while offering a vision of cinema that doesn’t take shortcuts and that stands out as being admirably uncompromising?

Not only did Lamothe answer these questions but he took the challenge even further: he offered keys to cinema’s future by inventing an accessible and critical way of filming an event in accordance with societal challenges that remain unchanged after fourty years. They form a triangle made of health, education and employment. This double programme is entirely made up of these rare films, including the essential Le mépris n’aura qu’un temps.

Event program

May 16th, 2012, 7:00pm / Health and Education
Le perfectionnement des enseignants

Le perfectionnement des enseignants

Arthur Lamothe, 1969, 30 minutes, 16mm

This is the second film in the programme that comes from a virtuously titled series of films (Pour une éducation de qualité). “Le perfectionnement des enseignants” is above all a lesson in cinema. Created with the help of director of photography Guy Borremans, we follow an art history professor’s car as he leaves his classroom at the Université de Montreal to go to the college where he teaches at the other side of city. The film is an absolute tour de force. Made with a single sequence shot filmed in the car, it transpires the prevalent urgency in the everyday life of a professor who is trying to make both ends meet while facing the incomprehension of his surroundings and attempting to further his knowledge. 

L'éloignement

L'éloignement

Arthur Lamothe, 1969, 30 minutes, Digibeta

In 1969, Arthur Lamothe worked on an ambitious series of six 30-minute films portraying the situation of education in Quebec. Co-produced with the Centrale des enseignants du Québec (CEQ), these exceptional films are very little-known and deserve to be re-discovered. In “L’éloignement”, the director and his partner, Danish director of photography Hasse Christensen, meticulously demonstrate the debates that are raging within the scholastic community of the northern Quebec town of Matagami. Lamothe is an expert in making films about nordicity and with this film he has produced his work of greatest relevance, and it is still pertinent today. Debates on the use of resources as well as on the preservation of knowledge and culture, critique of political unawareness, and the consideration of First Nations’ specific characteristics are all central subjects in this film that is based on dialogue and the exchange of ideas. 

May 16th, 2012, 9:00pm: Employment
La route du fer

La route du fer

Arthur Lamothe, 1972, 9 minutes, Digibeta

Along with “Le train du Labrador”, a film that Lamothe had directed several years earlier, this is one of the rare cinematographic looks at mining in northern Quebec at the beginning of the 1970’s. With a sense of brevity that demonstrates the filmmaker’s confidence, the film allows us to see the extreme mining conditions of days gone by. Produced with the Office du film du Québec. 

Un homme et son boss

Un homme et son boss

Arthur Lamothe et Guy Borremans, 1970, 6 minutes, Digibeta

Arthur Lamothe and Guy Borremans created this around the same time as Le mépris n’aura qu’un temps and it is a gem. It illustrates this period in Quebec’s history and how it was marked by social upheaval and the rise of consciousness over the abuses of power and exploitation of the working class. The integrity of the filmmakers approach can sometimes be translated in the mere work of the camera. In this film, it is mostly limited to a single shot that was filmed by Guy Borremans from a car in order to show the reality of “a man and his boss” that were on a sidewalk on the other side of the street. 

Le mépris n'aura qu'un temps

Le mépris n'aura qu'un temps

Arthur Lamothe, 1970, 95 minutes, Digibeta

Le mépris n’aura qu’un temps is the highlight of this featured period of social issues films and a major work of Quebecois cinema from the 1970s. It stands up today as a document of rare strength. It is an uncompromising account of the working conditions associated with the corruption in the city of Montreal. It is also the manifesto of an independent filmmaker who wants to portray the world in which he lives without concealing his convictions. This film was commissioned by the Conféderation des syndicats nationaux (the national confederation of unions) and was supposed to be a short, until Arthur Lamothe took hold of the project at his own expense and legitimately amplified its scope. 

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