Pierre Falardeau: The Original Angry French Guy

with 73 comments

Pierre Falardeau

The best interview of Pierre Falardeau I ever saw was the only one I ever heard him give in English.   In English Falardeau couldn’t pull the rancid foul-mouthed chain-smoking schtick that had made him such a polarizing and familiar face on TV.  In English he was just a soft-spoken filmaker talking about his art.

To most people, however, the director of Elvis Gratton, Octobre, Le Party, Le Steak and 15 Février 1837  will always be the bitter and angry separatist ranting about the Molsons, Trudeau and Big Federalist Media, waving his cigarette menacingly.  Pierre Falardeau died yesterday.  Not from lung cancer, in case you were wondering.

Pierre Falardeau’s character served him well.  It made him a celebrity.  A media personality.  It didn’t matter if people liked him of not, he could deliver the ratings. Once it even got him a seat on Bouillon de Culture, the French TV show about Haute Culture where a dozen parisian luminaries with broom handles up their asses talk about Alain Finkelkraut’s latest essay for four and a half hours. Falardeau slouched on his chair, smoked on the set and cranked the joual to blasphemous.  The French loved him.

Falardeau constantly had to sell himself because he wouldn’t sell out.  He refused to shoot commercials to make a living.  Since it’s just about impossible to raise the money to make a movie anywhere outside Hollywood without governement financing Falardeau had to go on TV and put on a show every so often to remind his fans that he was waiting on a check from Telefilm Canada, the governement agency that funds canadian movies.

Without the public pressure from his fans the militant filmaker knew his scenarios would have been killed one after another until he would have broken down and agreed to make films about “the migration of Canadian geese and the existential angst of Outremont’s middle aged.”

He wasn’t faking.  He really was angry.  He had to fight for every foot of film he ever got.  Guerrilla warfare.  He had to set the original script of 15 Février 1837, his movie about the Patriot Rebellion, in Poland to get it past a first round of bureaucrats.

Ultimatly, though, it got old.  Falardeau got stuck in his character: a drooling separatist bogey man consumed by anger.  A defeated man who would never live his dream of an independent Québec.

That’s why it was so refreshing to discover the other Falardeau in that English interview.  The anthropologist.  The scholar of imperialism and colonisation.  The man who’s ultimate struggle was not about some administratively independent state for Québec but giving the Québécois the opportunity to make and watch their own stories on the big screen before they came to believe, like Elvis Gratton, that American stories are the only stories in the world.

But you keep bitting the hand that feeds you! said the reporter in the English interview. Why should canadian taxpayers give you any money at all?

-Because I’m the only filmmaker in Canada who’s movie have ever made a profit, quitely answered Falardeau. I don’t cost money, I make money.

Things have changed since that interview.  This summer Québec movies made 18% of the box office revenue in the province.  The top grossing film of the entire summer, beating Harry Potter, Tansformers and G.I. Joe, was De Père en Flic, a Québec movie.  There are very few countries in the Western world where domestic movies have that big a share of the market.  Canadian films count for less than 2% of tickets sold in English Canada.

But before they could start building a man had to come to claim the land.  He had to cut down the trees and scorch the earth.  He had to fight off the bears and squatters.   He had to make sure the bankers money would be used to build a railroad.  It was tough work.  Not for your average film school grad.

The only reason there is a Québec film industry at all is because Pierre Falardeau proved that moviegoers would come out and pay to see a Québec movie at the multiplex.  Slapstic comedies, documentaries and historical dramas.

Pierre Falardeau made Québec’s commercial film industry possible.   And he did it without selling out.   Respect.

Written by angryfrenchguy

September 27, 2009 at 1:34 pm

73 Responses

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  1. “didn’t the 1982 constitution include a provincial veto on disposing of the monarchy, ie PEI with 200 000 people could theoretically block Canada from abolishing the monarchy ?”

    Yes, it is one of the matters covered under Section 41 that requires unanimous consent.


    October 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm

  2. “The monarchy is alive and well in the ROC and will likely remain so for some time”.
    I hope forever!


    October 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm

  3. ““The monarchy is alive and well in the ROC and will likely remain so for some time”.

    I hope forever!”

    You really should read The Colonizer and the Colonized (Portrait du Colonisé) by Albert Memmi, man…


    October 6, 2009 at 8:06 pm

  4. Je viens de découvrir ton blogue ! Vraiment super, senti et pertinent.

    Je reviendrai.

    Julien Gaudreau

    October 7, 2009 at 8:06 am

  5. As long as the Separatsist can say what they want all is well but free speech is not given to anglos and minorities in Quebec ie Howard Galganov. The French send out the thugs JPQ to beat him up and harrass. So much for free speech in KKK-Bec

    anony girl

    October 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm

  6. Quebec separstists put the KKK in K-Bec. Enjoy your Jim Crowe laws racists

    anony girl

    October 8, 2009 at 12:52 pm

  7. Last I checked, speaking a language (or learning a new one for that matter) was not a question of race. Im glad my (strictly english speaking) parents were smart enough to put me through french grade school, otherwise I might have ended up spouting similar pro-anglo non-sense. I would love to put a Jim Crowe era black american and contemporary montreal anglo in a room together and see how similar their stories of suffering are…

    Yap yap yap

    October 9, 2009 at 10:06 am

  8. Thank you Yap Yap Yap.

    Your comments are a perfect illustration of one of the main reasons why Bill 101 was and is essential. Not because you are necessarily going to see things exactly the same way as native-born francophones (whose opinions can vary as well), but at least you are givjng both views a fair shake before you make up your mind.

    Whatever the reasons, both views on the issues were generally not being given a fair hearing in Quebec’s ethnic communities before their children actually started going to school in French in large numbers.


    October 9, 2009 at 12:37 pm

  9. Where can I see the interview


    October 21, 2009 at 4:51 pm

  10. On parle bien du même homme qui appuyait l’idée d’utiliser le terrorisme pour la cause séparatiste? Le même qui appuyait le groupe terroriste du Hezbollah? Le même qui s’était réjouit des attentats du 11 septembre? Le même qui s’était réjouit de la mort de Claude Ryan?

    Falardeau était un attardé et il ne méritait pas toute cette attention.

    Christian Rioux

    November 5, 2009 at 12:49 pm

  11. L’autopsie d’un scandale préfabriqué


    November 12, 2009 at 2:35 pm

  12. […] and a single titled FLQ in which you give shout outs to Québec sovereigtists René Lévesque and Pierre Falardeau and spit: « Yes, I’m Québécois. No, I don’t know Canada. », of […]

  13. What do you consider your greatest achievement?


    May 20, 2010 at 10:12 am

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