Holy Phoque Indeed

(Props to Nathalie Petrowski's Cyberpresse column for the title.)

I don't usually find myself swept up in viral video fever, but this one is particularly Canadian and worthwhile.

While in Montreal this past weekend (more on that next episode), I was puttering around the hotel room with the Francophone breakfast show "Salut Bonjour" in the background, and noticed people talking about some film clip of a musician appearing before some sort of dismissive commission. Recognizing Stéphane Rousseau (from the film The Barbarian Invasions, but also a comedian and singer) as one of the inquisitors, I guessed it was a new feature film. Since my French sucks, that was as far as I could get.

Thanks to a link today on Twitter from Gilles Duceppe (or his people - he's leader of the Bloc Quebecois), I've found out the story, and it's pretty important for me to include here for a couple reasons.

First to go back for a second: last month, the Tory government decided to make a lot of cuts to some pretty helpful arts funding (Marc Weisblott did a fair job explaining some of this in the Scrolling Eye blog), which was preceded by a proposed bill which would effect funding for Canadian films with supposedly questionable morals (CBC has a good thumbnail here). Now we're in the middle of a federal election campaign (yes, us too), creative people who have to go through enough crap without all this are very concerned with what more could happen if the Tories win again. Many of them have organized into groups like the Department of Culture to educate and support each other and do some effective lobbying for once.

One group which is so far anonymous, but which seems to be without party affiliation and from Quebec, has made this three-minute film about the situation, "Culture en Péril (Culture in Danger)". The musician, Michel Rivard of a legendary band called Beau Dommage, appears before a government funding committee (including the fey fellow played by M. Rousseau) to propose a music festival to help promote Quebec music in France, and somehow hilarity ensues. No, it really does ensue, centred in part around the fact that the French word for "seal" (the swimming animal) is "phoque".

So here we have Quebeckers, who are way better at promoting their own stars and pop culture than in English Canada, bringing all their talents to bear to truly entertain and also illuminate some important issues - including issues important across the country regardless of language. And there are even English subtitles available (if you can't get them here, follow the YouTube link and follow the simple instructions to turn the captioning on).

I don't think it gets any more Canadian than this.

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