Few people know that the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal is host to a tiny movie theatre called Cinéma du Musée. It’s a cultural center and a social economy enterprise dedicated to showcasing local and international cinema in original version with French or English subtitles.
These days, it’s showcasing Le Dernier Nataq (The Last Nataq), a documentary by Lilli Marcotte about singer-songwriter Richard Desjardins. It explores Desjardins’ upbringing in Rouyn-Noranda and how the land, the local culture and the economy (Rouyn is a copper mining town) impacted his craft.
Completely self-financed and produced, the documentary’s narrative is anchored around a 2018 massive mural project in the city of Rouyn-Noranda that would feature imagery from Desjardins’ songs over the years. Think of the magnitude of Montréal’s Leonard Cohen’s mural, but widespread underneath one of the city’s overpass. Throughout the whole 75 minutes, Lili Marcotte gives us access to the creation process of the mural by artists Ariane Ouellet, Valéry Hamelin, Annie Boulanger, Brigitte Toutant and Johannie Séguin, and walk us through the town of Rouyn-Noranda with commentary from Desjardins about his memories of the different places. It’s also sparkled with input from local historians and artists, giving more insights on the town’s architecture, dynamics and sociological background.
If you already know the artist inside and out, you won’t learn much here, so people shouldn’t go in there expecting an extensive dive into Desjardins’ songs or personal life. However, it’s a great way to get familiar with Desjardins’ music and learn more about the history of this lesser known part of the province. The documentary also serves as a nice reminder that, if one person’s native land will definitely influence his art, at the end of the day, coming full circle, the most powerful artists also end up shaping back their homeland.
You can purchase tickets to see Le Dernier Nataq (with English subtitles) here (note that during the pandemic, tickets only become available 2 days in advance).
While you wait for the province to open up again and do your own road trip to Rouyn-Noranda, the mural itself can be contemplated via its own Facebook page.
While you’re here, why not take a few minutes to discover Desjardins’ music through this short Spotify playlist we’ve put together (below) and make sure to catch Olivia Piché’s interview with singer-songwriter Sara Diamond to discover other great artists from the local scene.
Francophone and Francophile, trying to bring Québec’s two solitudes together through cultural exchanges. Improv Actor for 15 years. Music lover, from New Age to Death Metal and everything in between.