Is there any one place on the map where your senses can be sufficiently tingled to mentally transport you to any city or country on the globe? Ask this question of Hollywood producers and they may well provide Quebec, Canada’s largest province, as an appropriate answer.
In recent years, Quebec, with its wealth of cultural and architectural heritage, classical European style and diverse landscape, has adopted the guise of many cities worldwide under the creative eyes of those in the film industry. Quebec alludes to cities of the past, present and future, evident in the range of film genres employing its scenic qualities.
In 2007 the auteur-driven I’m Not There presented the Quebec city of Brigham as 1960s Dylan territory. Montreal played Minsk in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008. Director Steven Spielberg chose Montreal to double as Marseilles in his film Catch Me if You Can and perhaps, most impressively, Quebec donned the mask of the Earth’s core in Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
India, Beirut, Scotland and New York are amongst Quebec’s other personas. The aforementioned attributes, together with Quebec’s technologically advanced Visual Effects industry and the ease of access to Canada from Hollywood makes the area a popular choice for film producers who would otherwise be required to travel to the ‘real’ Europe and beyond for their productions.
Fans of the cult novel On the Road by Jack Kerouac are doubtless aware that Jose Rivera has adapted the story for the big screen under the direction of Walter Salles and is due for release this year. Jack Kerouac himself, real name Jean-Louis Kerouac, was born to a French Canadian family and it therefore seems fitting that Quebec’s city of Hull should provide the setting for the film of his novel. In this instance, Quebec pretends to be 1940s working class Denver.
In addition to Hollywood’s ardour for the province, Quebec boasts its own film industry with its own Jutra Awards ceremony. The majority of these productions are filmed in the Quebecois French language and often prove to be more successful than Hollywood blockbusters with the provincial natives who are keen to preserve their mother tongue.
The film Incindies from Quebecois French director Denis Villeneuve, where Montreal is in fact acting simply as Montreal, is nominated in the Best Foreign Film category at this year’s Oscars ceremony. If you have been inspired by any of your favourite film settings to visit foreign shores then perhaps Quebec is a good starting point, a temporary backdrop to your own life.
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