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Hochelaga, Land Of Souls

(Hochelaga, Terre des Âmes)

Canada's Official Selection for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar!

François Girard’s Hochelaga, Land Of Souls (Canada’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar) is trickily structured and flamboyantly staged, but rewards with a rich cinematic banquet. The menu sprawls across eight centuries of Montréal history, tying together present and various pasts through the framing device of a modern-day archaeological dig.

Poster for historical drama Hochelaga Land Of SoulsWhen, in the opening scene, a sinkhole opens up in the middle of a football field, a leading academic (Gilles Renaud) realizes this is an opportunity to search a site long believed key to Montreal’s and entire region’s history. He puts Mohawk grad student Baptiste (Samian) in charge of the excavation, which, layer by layer, reveals evidence of Quebec’s entire colonial history and beyond.

Girard’s historical fantasia is admirably compact, even if it means the reduction of so many large themes to a motif or fleeting moment the director’s ambitious and symphonic vision has an undeniable splendour, one amply served by his superb design and tech collaborators. Particularly notable are the spectacular CGI effects that bring to life entire vistas (like a huge Iroquois village) that existed before Montréal itself; and a diverse, beautiful score by composers Terry and Gyan Riley.

– Dennis Harvey, Variety


Un immense trou est apparu dans le Stade Percival, au pied du mont Royal. À tel point qu’un anthropologue (interprété par le rappeur Samian) est envoyé pour percer ses secrets. Dès qu’il découvre un artefact, le spectateur est entraîné dans le passé. Sept cent cinquante ans d’histoire défilent ainsi à l’horizon, montrant les relations entre les gens qui ont foulé ce lieu unique.

Reprenant les notes magiques de son Violon rouge, François Girard fait œuvre de mémoire, multipliant les ellipses temporelles et les destins de personnages, mettant son immense savoir-faire technique au profit d’un projet ambitieux où les esprits d’hier demeurent bien présents.

–  Martin Gignac, Journal Métro

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