Documentary feature ‘Malartic’ hits theatres across Quebec

"What happened there is symptomatic of what is going to happen in cities," says film director Nicolas Paquet. The documentary examines the economic and environmental fallout from the largest open-pit gold mine in Canada. Anastasia Dextrene reports.

Following its world premiere at Les Rendez-Vous Québec Cinéma, the documentary “Malartic,” by Quebec director Nicolas Paquet, has now landed in select theatres across the province – including in Montreal, Quebec City, Rouyn-Noranda (Abitibi), Rimouski (Bas-Saint-Laurent) and Shawinigan (Mauricie).

The film examines the fallout from the largest open-pit gold mine in Canada, revealing broken promises and questioning the politics of land management. 

“What happened [in Malartic] is, for me, is symptomatic of what is going to happen in many other cities,” said director and producer, Nicolas Paquet.

According to Mining Watch Canada, over 200 households and five public institutions had to be relocated prior to digging an initial 2.5km open pit in Malartic.

“The mining company is making millions of profit and if you walk into the streets of the city, you wonder where the money is going,” the filmmaker said. 

For Paquet, the decision to go to the town and meet with its experts was easy. Those experts included Geneviève Gariépy, who ended up becoming one of the film’s protagonists.

“I’m happy that Nicolas, the director, is giving the floor to people from Malartic,” she said. “It’s not the same city at all. When I go back, it’s not my childhood city – the streets I used to take to school are gone, the houses are gone.”

Geneviève Gariépy on screen during a screening of “Malartic” at La Cinémathèque Québécoise on April 19, 2024. (CREDIT: Anastasia Dextrene, CityNews Image)

“Yes, when communities need revitalizing, we want to latch onto a project that will bring wealth, activity and dynamize the city. That’s what Malartic needed and still needs, but you can’t give up the town at just any cost,” Gariépy added.

With the film having already won the Caribou prize for environmental, ecological and regionalist values at the Festival du cinéma documentaire de Gaspé Vues sur mer, the National Film Board of Canada hopes the documentary will continue to raise awareness around land-mining issues.

“Mining companies are big. We have a feeling that it’s far away. But really, it’s an issue that concerns everybody,” NFB executive producer, Nathalie Cloutier, said. “We always have a choice of how decisions are made, how we design our future as a society, as a country, as a province. We have an impact. We have a choice, but we need to understand on which basis these decisions are made.”

“If people feel they can be part of a group or go to their town hall and ask questions, then I’ll be happy,” Paquet told CityNews.

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