John Walker grew up in Quebec. By the 1970s he had left, but as the years went by, the filmmaker wanted to explore his past in La Belle Province.
“I grew up in a very exciting time in Quebec; the so-called Quiet Revolution,” Walker said.
Quebec My Country Mon Pays looks at that period of time from the point of view of Francophones and Walker’s own family.
The documentary filmmaker speaks to cultural figures like Oscar-winning director Denys Arcand and author and filmmaker Jacques Godbout about how they lived events like the FLQ crisis.
Walker’s father decided to leave at the age of 55.
“It was painful for my father at that time, not so much for me because I was 25 and you’re less rooted in some sense,” the director explained.
Over time though, the siren call of Quebec would haunt him.
“The rootedness for me began to grow after I left. I started to miss Quebec and I felt a longing of not being a part of what was happening in Quebec,” Walker said.
From the 1960s to the late 1990s, almost 600,000 Anglophone Quebecers left the province. Walker’s sister stayed.
“That’s the conflict: my sister stayed and I’m grateful that she kept the home fire burning. She made it work, why did I leave? If I had stayed, what would have been? That’s the conflict, that our family was divided,” Walker said.
He says the reaction to the film has been moving.
“I get a reaction from those who left who say they buried those feelings, but they did have deep emotions that couldn’t be expressed and they didn’t know why.
“It’s not like we were chased out with guns. There were bombs, but we weren’t chased out. It was a choice.”
Quebec My Country Mon Pays is playing as part of the Montreal International Documentary Film Festival.
The festival runs from Nov. 10 to 20.