Archipelago

Archipelago ★★★

The world of Québec-produced animation is an illustrious treat. For those unfamiliar with the recent rise of exports from studios such as the National Film Board of Canada, the province of Québec is largely known in the entertainment sphere to be a great place for film production. While many usually look at Québec as a perfect shooting space for live-action features, the world of locally-produced animation is a consistent outlet. For decades at this point, Québécois animators have been testing and toiling with the misconception of animation as merely children’s entertainment. Creating compelling pieces of contemporary art, short films to come from the province have gone far in critical acclaim at awards circuits and festivals. With the latest work from Québécois filmmaker Félix Dufour-Laperrière, Archipel proves to be yet another beautifully crafted work from a province that continuously produces consistent challenging animation work.

Routing back from his previous project Ville Neuve, Dufour-Laperrière has a strange fascination with the evolution of Québec society. Where in his previous feature, he highlighted the internal-psychological deterioration of the human psyche during the time of the 1995 Referendum, Archipel challenges the viewer with a far more open-ended concept. It’s a film that highlights the cultural history of the thousands of islands that exist on the Saint Lawrence River, and discusses themes of mortality, heritage, assimilation, colonialism, industrialisation, and cultural identity. Spiralling with a framing device between a conversation with an unknown man and a woman who is implied to be the natural force of these aforementioned islands, the film combines poetry, dialogue, and slick lyricism to tell it’s decade-sprawling...

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