RIDM 2017: Antoine (Quebec, 2008)

for Cinetalk.net

Laura Bari’s Antoine is a delightful documentary about the imagination and creativity of children. At the helm of a playtime detective agency, Antoine Hoang is the most resourceful of his group of friends. Despite his disability, he shows remarkable maturity and leadership skills. Six-year-old Antoine was born very premature. During incubation period, he suffered retinal detachment due to an overuse of oxygen. Nevertheless, he finds incredible ways to – just like his peers – be a kid.

Bari took a novel approach to documenting the child in his natural habitat. Instead of only capturing moments with her camera, she invented a fictional character and mystery storyline, and presented the ‘clues’ to Antoine in the form of a children’s activity. She also gave him recording equipment to document his surroundings. The resulting audio is incorporated into the film’s final sound mix. Bari’s camera follows Antoine and his two friends on their hunt for clues. Often angled low, this brings the viewer to a child’s point of view of the world.

When we are not ‘seeing’ through Antoine’s ‘eyes’, we witness his interactions with teachers and family. The precocious child often has witty repartees, and even chides his family for speaking Vietnamese in Montreal. He realizes who he is by cultural birthright, but also seems to understand just how Quebecois he is. Though his parents speak in Vietnamese-accented French, Antoine is full of slangy, adult-like Quebecois French expressions. This makes him so utterly intriguing and charming. His sharp tongue and range of vocabulary makes him seem older than his classmates.

Antoine is proof that disability does not mean inability. As Antoine says, “It’s not easy to find [everything], but it’s easy to imagine.”

 

Screenings:

November 13th, 7 pm (RIDM 20th anniversary presentation) Mabrasserie – Brewing coop
2300 Rue Holt, Montréal
with English subtitles

Director or crew member in attendance

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