At the eastern edge of Canada, in the French-speaking province of Quebec, English communities scatter the Gulf of St-Lawrence. Isolated and remote, with no links culturally or physically to the rest of Quebec, villages of the Lower North Shore have been dependent on the fishing industry for centuries. That’s until the 1992 cod moratorium devastated their economy, halting all cod fishing overnight.
Set in the village of St. Paul’s River, the film follows a set of characters. Teenagers like Ethan, Brittney, Whitney and Patrick will graduate high school and leave for the first time to pursue their education in the city, thousands of kilometers from home. They dream of opportunities and freedom, and see exile as their only option, leaving their family behind and knowing they probably won’t come back.
Meanwhile, the older generation fights to keep a lifestyle they cherish, refusing to accept what seems to be inevitable. Will Guy be dependent of his crab fishing license for much longer? How far will Garland be able to push his tourism projects? And will Tim finally get the construction job that he was waiting for?
The personal journeys of these characters who call themselves the “forgotten people” offer a unique and nuanced glimpse into a reality shared by many remote regions across the world. As the characters sway between uncertainty and hope through the recurring cycles of seasons, we are transported into their world and witness a deeply intimate and personal conversation between young and old about identity, opportunity and ultimately happiness.
“I feel guilty that I want to leave, but at the same time, there’s only so much you can do before it starts to become repetitive” - Ethan Nadeau.
CONTEXT & PRODUCTION NOTE
In 2012, we had the opportunity to give filmmaking workshops to high school students on Quebec’s Lower North Shore. We were stunned at how barren, isolated and remote this region was. Who were these people living in an area of Quebec, locally referred as “The Coast”, and didn’t we know about them before?
During our workshops, every student we spoke to would say the same thing: If you want to further your education or get a job, you have to leave your village. We thought it would be interesting, for this very reason, to follow a graduating class throughout a year, as they prepare for their future and reflect on their past. We focused on the class of Saint Paul’s River High School. By immersing ourselves into their lives, we discovered their village and the surrounding environment. We met their parents, uncles and aunts who have decided to stay on the Coast and fight to maintain a lifestyle that is slowly fading away.
Through intimate and observational storytelling, A Place of Tide and Time makes us reflect on broader issues that resonate with most modern societies today. How economically viable can isolated and remote communities be? When you can’t study or find work in your home town, what are the repercussions on yourself, your family and your community?
The film refuses to cast a bleak and hopeless light. We have been inspired by the Coaster’s generosity, humor and capacity at making the harshest situations light and enjoyable. They are dreaming of better opportunities or fighting to hold on to something they love that they know is unique. In both instances, there is hope.
- Sébastien & Aude
Student and resident of St. Paul’s River, QC
Ethan was born and raised in the small fishing village of St. Paul’s River. This year, the 17-year-old will be one of 9 students to graduate from high school. He taught himself to play drums, piano, guitar and says he built up his self-esteem by training in track and field and ultimate fighting. He’s eager to leave home and embark on new adventures and doesn’t see a future for him in his village.
Former Fisherman, Tourism developer, jack-of-all-trades and resident of St. Paul’s River, QC
At 63 years old, Garland Nadeau has spent the majority of his life on the sea wandering from one fishing job to another. But after having reconnected with his heritage and the land that surrounds him, Garland made it his mission, as he calls it, to leave something behind for future generations. He now informally promotes tourism in his village and is one of the most outspoken people for economic and cultural development of Quebec’s Lower North Shore.
Student and resident of Old Fort, QC
Brittney comes from a long-established fishing family. She has one older sister that has left the Lower North Shore to pursue her education and isn’t planning to come back. With her parents gone most of the year, Brittney was partly raised by her grandmother and learned at an early age how to live alone. She’s not quite sure of what she wants to do after high school, but one thing is certain: she will leave to pursue higher education elsewhere.
Sébastien Rist & Aude Leroux-Lévesque
Directors and Cinematographers
Sébastien Rist and Aude Leroux-Lévesque are Montreal-based documentary filmmakers. Their first documentary, Call me Salma (2010), followed a transgendered teenager in Bangladesh. It aired on Arte, EBS Korea, Direct 8 and played in numerous international film festivals. Their most recent film, Living with Giants, portrayed the life of a young Inuk. It won the 2016 Emerging Canadian Filmmaker (Hot Docs) Best Canadian Documentary (VIFF) and was nominated for 3 Prix Iris (2017) including best feature documentary film.
A Place of Tide and Time is their second feature length documentary.
A Place of Tide and Time, 2018, Produced by MC2 Communication Média
Living with Giants, 2016, Produced by MC2 Communication Média
Kelly Fraser, North Star, 2016, Produced by Spicee.com
Call me Salma, 2010, Produced by Upside Television
a MC2 COMMUNICATION MEDIA production
Niklas Paschburg & Safia Nolin