Discovering Quebec Through the Lens of Movies

Quebec has a history as complicated and unique as America’s, but not everyone is aware of it. Many artists from Quebec, whether painters, singers, writers, or directors, have always had a sense of belonging of this province, and they often felt the need to share it with the world, but most importantly with the population of the province itself. In fact, it was important for them to create something relatable, that could represent Quebecois’ lifestyle from the 1930s until now. Movies have particularly been a mere representation of the Belle Province, as it is now called. Quebec is not limited to poutine, or to the 101 French language law. The particular French language derived from the “joual” (spoken Canadian French by the urban population), the beautiful landscapes from cities like Gaspésie, the Château Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City, Félix Leclerc’s folk songs, the cultural diversity in Montreal, the Siberian winter we go through every year… All of this make Quebec one of the most beautiful places to visit, and this is the province directors like Denys Arcand, Claude Jutra, and Gilles Groulx were so in love with that they dedicated their lives to present it. Here are a list of the best five movies from Quebec you need to watch this summer and that are better than most American blockbusters.

À tout prendre

1963 – Claude Jutra

À tout prendre

Let’s go back in time when movies looked really amazing in black and white. À tout prendre is a semi-autobiography of director Claude Jutra who was in love with a Haitian model, but was simultaneously confused about his sexual orientation. A heartbreaking story about interracial love by a director who is considered to be the father of modern Quebecois cinema, but who unfortunately took his own life in 1986 after knowing he had Alzheimer’s disease.


(2005) – Jean-Marc Vallée


Although the movie was directed in 2005, this drama takes place in the 60s. C.R.A.Z.Y. takes you through a torrid relationship between and a father and his homosexual son. It also analyzes society in Quebec at that time, how the Catholic church was omnipresent in people’s lives, and how rock ‘n’ roll was the new black.

Le déclin de l’empire américain

(1986) – Denys Arcand


Eight friends, four men and four women who are all university teachers, prepare to have dinner in a chalet. The women chit-chat together about their sex lives at a gym, while the same goes for the men who also prepare the food and tell each other stories, like how they conquered many women. The movie is basically a socio-political conversation, which shows a reversal of both sexes’ roles and how sex is big part of people’s lives.


(2010) – Denis Villeneuve


Inspired by Wajdi Mouawad’s play of the same name, Incendies tells the story of a mother of twins who succumbs to a stroke while swimming with her daughter. Her wish is for her son and daughter to discover a heavy secret their mother has tried to hide her whole life.

Laurence Anyways

(2012) – Xavier Dolan


At last, here’s a movie about impossible love. Indeed, this movie directed by the young Xavier Dolan who’s also known for his first movie J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother), tells the story of two love birds, Frédérique and Laurence. However, Laurence lets his girlfriend in on a secret he has kept for a long time: he always felt like a woman. A very original movie, with Dolan’s signature style, that will make feel all the feels in one night.

Currently studying translation in Montreal and looking forward to write every day without hope, neither despair. If I were forbidden to write, I'd die. It's the only way I express my deepest feelings and thoughts. I love music more than humans and listen to Lana Del Rey when I'm misunderstood, to Michael Jackson when I'm happy and want to dance, and to rock 'n' roll when I want to feel alive. Movies and fashion are other big loves of mine, but God, my family, and friends always come first. :)