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Le Nèg'

Year: 2002
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 92 min
Director: Robert Morin
Producer: Lorraine Dufour
Writer: Robert Morin
Cinematographer: Jean-Pierre St-Louis
Editor: Lorraine Dufour
Sound: Hans Strobl, Marcel Chouinard, Louis Collin
Music: Bertrand Chénier
Cast: Emmanuel Bilodeau, Iannicko N’Doua-Légaré, Robin Aubert, Jean-Guy Bouchard, Vincent Bilodeau, René-Daniel Dubois, Béatrice Picard
Production Company: Coop Vidéo de Montréal, Les Productions 23 Inc.

Le NPg’ opens in the countryside on the morning after a night of chaos and bloodshed. A police investigation elicits fragmented descriptions of the nocturnal fiasco: a black teenager (Iannicko N’Doua-Légaré) smashes an objectionable lawn ornament; Cédulie (Béatrice Picard), the ornament’s owner, and her mentally challenged son, Polo (René-Daniel Dubois), come out to investigate; they are joined by a neighbour, Bertrand (Jean-Guy Bouchard), and a group of inebriated partygoers who are curious to see what’s going on. Then all hell breaks loose – the teenager is wounded by a cop and Cédulie is killed by her own rifle. But contradictions abound, as each witness presents their own variation on the story.

With Le NPg’, Robert Morin continues to interrogate the failure of traditional storytelling to convey the complexity of events and the many ways a single incident may be perceived. Morin’s first feature, the gritty urban drama Requiem pour un beau sans-coeur, was named best Canadian feature at the 1992 Toronto International Film Festival. It was an auspicious film debut for the successful video artist. The film impressed audiences and critics alike with its reworking of narrative conventions, which employed shifts in time, overlapping stories and multiple viewpoints.

Combining these same techniques with stark realism and a unique visual style, Le NPg’ continually raises questions about which depiction of the confrontation is closest to the truth. The film places the viewer in the position of uneasy witness to a series of disturbing and increasingly violent events.

Le NPg’ caused an uproar in Montreal before it even opened due to its racially charged themes and its title, which translates as the pejorative N-word in English. Named one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2002 by an independent panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals, it is a deeply troubling film that raises many questions but offers no easy answers.

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