by Sachin Chatte
Denis was inspired by the real life story of Jean Corbo, a 16-year-old idealist, who fought for the identity of the people of Quebec, but at some point then resorted to violence. The film centres on this boy who comes from a wealthy family but whose ideas are completely opposite to that of his father. The background of the story is that even though the dominant majority were the Francophiles, it was the Anglophiles who ruled the roost. “I was fascinated by Jean Corbo’s story. He is not very well known and his life has not been well documented. It was not easy to get information about him and there was a lot of hard work and time involved in doing research”, said Mathieu, who first heard about the young man from his father, who would have been of the same age as Corbo had the later been alive today. Since Corbo is a forgotten hero, the director hopes that the film will revive some interest in his life.
One can imagine the effort that Mathieu and his team must have put in; Jean Corbo doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page while his brother has one. “Yes, his brother is quite well known as an intellectual and is closely involved with the university. I tried to get him involved with the film, but the wounds and pain still haven’t gone away and he has not come to terms with it”, Mathieu said.
Interestingly, like almost all films in Canada, this film also received state funding and since it was a period film (set in 1966) it was not easy to get the money.
So how easy was it to write a screenplay about a person who was an idealist and wanted to change the world for the better, but resorted to violence? “I wanted to keep the facts as they are but any work of art is never completely objective in that sense. There is always the maker’s point of view that is involved. But I had to be very careful with what I have shown because I didn’t want to give the impression that violence is the solution, actually it is far from it”, says Mathieu, who studied filmmaking in Canada before taking the plunge.
Corbo and his group of young radical friends set off bombs and resorted to violence to achieve their objective. “Having personal convictions is a good thing and in some way we all have ideals. But the bigger question is about how we fight for our ideals and how far we are willing to go to achieve them; that is important. But I don’t want to indict them for what they did. That was 50 years ago and things were different back then. It is always very easy to decode things in hindsight.” Corbo is set for release in March 2015 in Canada and will be screened at 25 to 30 screens, which is the norm for most films there.