Reviews & Previews

Preview: Heureux Naufrage (Fortunate Shipwreck)

The Charter of Values, as proposed by the former Parti Québécois government, raised inter-communal tensions, sparked an impassioned debate, and is now history.

But what about the back-story, the historical developments that saw Quebec transformed from one of the world’s most pious Roman Catholic enclaves to this latest push for pure secularism?

Quebec director Guillaume Tremblay tackles these issues in his new and acclaimed documentary Heureux Naufrage (Fortunate Shipwreck).

Now that an English language subtitled version has been made, Prof. Norman Cornett will conduct one of his dialogic sessions with Tremblay when they show it. This teaching system gets students to express their views in the presence of the filmmaker.

“They asked me for a phrase that would convey the subject of the film,” Cornett says. “I proposed The Ambient Emptiness of Post-Modern Society.” His academic expertise is religion in Quebec society.

“This film takes Quebec society from the dawn of the Quiet Revolution, what Quebec was like as far as religion, what happened in the 1960s, and where we have come to now.”

Tremblay and his associates began attending Cornett’s dialogic sessions when Cornett was examining the values charter. They showed him the film and asked him to conduct dialogic sessions on it.

“The film gives us the background for the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation and the values charter, how Quebec society got there, and why it came to this point.”

The documentary features interviews with filmmakers Denys Arcand and Bernard Émond; philosophers André Compte-Sponville (“the faithful atheist”) and Frédéric Lenoir; Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the James Bay Cree Nation; and singer Ginette Reno, whose O Canada at the recent NHL hockey games electrified many.

“They present Quebec as a microcosm of Western society and discuss what happened in the wake of post-modernism: Where that left Western society as far as religion and spirituality, and how that relates to the human condition on the individual and collective levels,” Cornett says.

These experts examine “the issue of values, but in a non-political context, and look for what unites all Quebecers.”

The English language world premiere, and a dialogic session with the director led by Cornett, will be held Sept. 22, 7pm at St. John the Evangelist Church (the red roof church), 137 President Kennedy Ave. Tickets cost $5. Click here for more info.

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