For the last nine months – and with six months to go – I have been shooting a documentary in Montreal North. With my DOP Martin Duckworth and our assistant Franck Le Coroller, I have been immersed in the daily reality of a mutli-ethnic ‘underprivileged’ neighborhood.
Compared to downtown Montreal where we live ourselves, this is quite another world, although the differences are not always what you’d expect. The neighborhood has been the subject of much sensationalist press coverage focusing on violence and street gangs, and definitely doesn’t have a good reputation. The ‘Villanueva affair’ which saw a youth killed by police in a park three years ago called attention to the racial profiling and discriminatory attitudes of the police.
Since then, there has been a push for change in Montreal-North. But are things changing fast enough?
At the centre of most of the controversies are the young men of Montreal-North who are considered ‘at risk.’ And they are the subjects of our film. Produced by Jeannine Gagné at Amazone films with a license from Canal D and investment by SODEC and The Canadian Media Fund, it will follow three young men who are struggling to improve their situation despite tremendous difficulties.
Until now, our main challenge has been the ‘casting,’ the choice of our main characters. Each one of the young men we focus on will likely have a link to a community organization that is trying to make a difference in the neighbourhood. In a few weeks I’ll tell you more about them, and about a video training course we organized for one group of young people.
Thanks to Tobi Elliott for help with this blog.