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Canada, 1974 (MIFF 1975)

Director: Michel Brault

Michel Brault wrote and directed this film, which is concerned with the abuses experienced in Quebec during the terrorist scare of October 1970. Brault is also responsible for much of the camerawork, together with Francois Protat.

Following the kidnapping of the British commercial attache in Montreal, James Cross, and the Quebec Minister of Labor, Pierre Laporte, the government in Ottawa declared the War Measures Act.

Citizens could be arrested and detained without warrant or explanation for up to sixty days.

Les Ordres is a fictional reconstruction of this period, and centres on the situation of five citizens who are arrested and jailed without ever knowing why. They are Clermont Boudreau, factory worker, occasional taxi driver, union representative; Marie Boudreau, his wife, housewife, mother of three children; Richard Lavoie, thirty-year oid unemployed man who takes care of the two children while his wife works as a waitress; Jean-Marie Beauchemin, physician in charge of a a poor neighbourhood; and Claudette Dusseault, social worker.

In 1970, Brault interviewed fifty of the 450 people arrested in Quebec and he has used their experiences in a composite way as the basis for his investigation. He has chosen to deal with people who had no connection with terrorism, and his film concentrates on the humiliations and mental torture they endure in prison. In particular, he explores the relationship between detainee and jailer. They come from the same social class and neither group understands the orders the jailers are expected to follow.

Unlike some other film-makers concerned with terrorism and police violence, Brault has created an intimate drama without sensationalism. He achieves this effect partly by shooting his exterior scenes in black and white, and the interior prison scenes in colour.

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