Fernand Bélanger

Rivière-du-Loup , QC
Quebec CA
January, 2006

Documentarist. Long known as the NFB French studio’s rebellious in-house anarchist and specialist in the alienations and passions of youth, Bélanger’s first works like Ti-coeur (1969) and Ty-peupe (1971) were pulsating with homoerotic subtexts. But he is best known for his boldly innovative and risk-taking Passiflora (co-dir. Dagmar Teufel, 1985, 85). On the eve of the great NFB turnaround, this daring graffiti essay on the Pope, Michael Jackson, the Olympic Stadium, and the manipulation of the masses gave a spunky glimmer of hope in a decade of institutional complacency. Named after the anesthetic tropical passion flower, Passiflora deploys animation, “new music,” street theatre and dramatization laid over its observation of the two media stars’ simultaneous visit to their Montreal faithful. It celebrates resistance by a coalition of the disobedient: gays, transpeople, the young, battered women, the “psychiatrized,” and abortion activists and clients. In the face of such irreverence, the studio brass moved quickly into damage control mode, nixing an English version, discouraging festival exposure, quietly dumping the film into short-lived release, and effectively banishing the two directors to Canadian film Siberia. Today the film is not even available for purchase–quelle coincidence!