October 20, 2020 – Moncton – National Film Board of Canada
Renée Blanchar’s new feature documentary Le silence (The Silence) will have its world premiere as the opening film of the Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie (FICFA), screening online on Thursday, November 12, at 8 p.m. Co-produced by Ça Tourne Productions and the NFB in collaboration with Radio-Canada, it is the third film by Blanchar to open the festival, following Les héritiers du club (A Place That Matters, 2014) and Nos hommes dans l’Ouest (Shadow Men, 2017). In The Silence, she tackles a difficult topic with great sensitivity: the sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests against young boys in francophone New Brunswick. The subject couldn’t be more topical, as it joins the long list of pedophilia scandals tarnishing the Catholic Church in Canada, the United States and elsewhere in the world. The Silence will be released in theatres across New Brunswick later this fall. FICFA takes place from November 12 to 20, 2020, in the Greater Moncton area and online; the full lineup of NFB productions and co-productions at the festival will be announced at a later date.
Confronting silence with truth, Renée Blanchar delivers a work that is shattering, personal and necessary. Deeply rooted in her community, she learned that she had unknowingly come very close to this oppressive secret while shooting her first documentary, Vocation ménagère (1996), in Acadian parishes. Now, with The Silence, she meets the victims whose stories bear witness to their broken lives. They kept quiet for many years, but after making the courageous decision to accuse their perpetrators, these men can now hope for a kind of justice and the beginning of healing.
“Some films are made for obvious reasons, while others come about in a curious way, as if they were being revealed by some mysterious order. An order that, at first glance, would appear to be leading us off course when really, it’s the complete opposite. This is how it was with The Silence, certainly the most challenging film I’ve ever made.” − Renée Blanchar, director
About the film
The Silence by Renée Blanchar (1 h 46 min)
Co-produced by Ça Tourne Productions (Maryse Chapdelaine) the NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio in Moncton (Christine Aubé), in collaboration with Radio-Canada
Why be silent about the most serious matters? Doesn’t silence perpetuate suffering? From the 1950s to the 1980s, Catholic priests sexually abused many young boys in the francophone towns of New Brunswick. These scandals only came to light when the victims were in their fifties and older, provoking shock and outrage in the media and the public. Why did the affected communities keep silent so long, preferring secrecy to justice and truth? Profiting from their positions of influence to impose a “pious silence” on their parishioners, some authority figures seem to have built, in a way, an abusive system that tells us as much about the type of oppression specific to the Acadian population as it does about the blanket denials issued by the Catholic Church. Called to confront the power of this collective silence, veteran filmmaker Renée Blanchar meets with survivors in an attempt to untangle the deeply rooted reasons for this secrecy. With The Silence, she takes us as close as she can to the humanity of these broken men, revealing the multiple and far-reaching consequences of silence, not just for the communities affected, but for the Acadian community as a whole.
About the filmmaker
Filmmaker Renée Blanchar studied cinema in France before returning to develop a successful career in film and television while working from her hometown in New Brunswick. Her work has in many ways blazed a trail not just for Acadian cinema but for women in the film industry everywhere. Renée made her mark in television drama as the director of the series Belle-Baie for five seasons (2008–2012). Her documentaries, including her most recent film, The Silence, are noted for their powerful subject matter and their ability to reveal the depths of the protagonists’ humanity. Raoul Léger, la vérité morcelée (Raoul Léger: The Elusive Truth, 2002) and On a tué l’Enfant-Jésus (A Hospital Crucified, 2007) were winners of the La Vague Prize for Best Acadian Film at the Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie (FICFA), and Les héritiers du club (A Place That Matters, 2014) and Nos hommes dans l’Ouest (Shadow Men, 2017) were presented as opening films at FICFA: all these documentaries resonated strongly both within and beyond their own milieux. Almost all of her films were written and directed from her home base in the city of Caraquet, New Brunswick.
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Electronic Press Kit | Images, credits, poster, synopses: The Silence
Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie
Ça Tourne Productions
French version here | Version en français ici.