Skip to main content

Au Chic Resto Pop - A Hot Docs Review

Au Chic Resto Pop (1991)
Written & Directed by Tahani Rached
Produced by Éric Michel
Composer: Steve Faulkner

Presented as part of the Focus on Tahani Rached
Screening as part of Hot Docs Film Fest - check screening times here.

Along the dowdy streets of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in east Montreal, the unemployment rate is 90% and the rate of underweight births rivals that of Morocco. Most families are single parents with an average of 4 children. It's a textbook recipe for a downward spiral into a multitude of social ills. Yet... Au Chic Resto Pop begins and ends in upbeat songs about love and second chances performed by its feisty residents in what you might call a docu-musical.

Amid the down market tenements and dirty streets, the group decided that they needed to get out of the Welfare rut, and decided that they were going to come up with their own solutions, be self sufficient. No more charity. What they came up with is part business, part support group, and part remedial training centre - Au Chic Resto Pop. As one of them explains, they recycle food and human potential.

The food they serve is collected from stores and businesses, some as outright gifts, some in lieu of what they'd throw away. A donut store manager explains that they have to bake a new batch of donuts every 8 hours at a minimum, so they'd otherwise throw out whatever was a mere 8 hours old. When it comes to produce, Québécois director Tahani Rached shows her activist roots and goes into a sidebar about the appalling level of waste in the produce business - caused by our reluctance to buy anything that doesn't look 'perfect' - in an argument about sustainability that, let's not forget, came 19 years before the current discussion in mainstream media. It does distract us from the story of the Resto, however, with only a tie back into it at the end of a long aside.

It's not that there isn't enough of a point to be made in the story of the Resto itself. The meals they serve up twice a day cost only $1, with easy credit terms, in an effort to combat the very real scourge of hunger. As one of the neighbourhood's teachers explains, after the 15th of the month, the kids come to school hungry, and just can't keep up with the work. (Image is of indefatigable Annie, the boss of them all)

There are also some unique HR challenges when you're giving jobs to people who may be holding one for the very first time, people who might have been sitting in front of the TV or a bottle for years and years.

Much of the film fleshes out the story of some of the main characters at Au Chic, from Philip the guy who picks up the food in a van, the women who work in the kitchen, Daniel who cleans up, and more. Each of them performs a song they've written with composer Steve Faulkner, and the music is classic rock-ish - twas the era, after all. The lyrics are autobiographical, and talk of their journeys from down and out to working at the Resto. It's a cute take on the participatory documentary, and the results are sincere and emotional.

You can check it out here (in French) if you can't make it to the screening.


Popular posts from this blog

Film News - imagineNATIVE Embargo Collective at the Berlin Film Fest

Hot Off the Presses:
(and gosh, doesn't that expression sound quaint these days?)

to have its European Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival 2010
(Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 11.-21.02.10)

(Toronto, February 3rd, 2010) The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is pleased to announce the official selection of the festival’s Embargo Collective programme for the Forum Expanded section of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. This programme of works was commissioned by the imagineNATIVE festival for its 10th anniversary and will have its European premiere Monday, February 15th, 8.30pm at Cinema Arsenal 2 and a repeat screening Wednesday, February 17th, 4pm at CinemaxX 6.

Curated by imagineNATIVE’s Artistic Director Danis Goulet, the Embargo Collective is an international group of seven Indigenous artists at the forefront of the changing global landscape of Indigenous cinema. Inspired by Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructi…

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

Guitar Rock | Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds Independent: May 31, 2019

Guitar Rock
Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds
Independent: May 31, 2019
Stream/Buy on Bandcamp
Stream it on Spotify

With tight musicians and intriguing lyrics, Happy Freuds delivers high energy guitar rock with stylistic flair on Echo Of Sounds, their debut release. Produced with a minimum of overdubs or fixes, the album consists of a mix of original material, rearrangements of works from others and selected, less known, classic rock.

A kinetic rhythm section is the bones of the music, offering interesting patterns that augment sometimes unexpected harmonic changes. It's brainy rock, in other words, meant for music lovers who can appreciate the quality. Teo's vocals are raspy and expressive, growly when necessary - perfect for the musical mode. Teo also covers lead guitar, adapt at ear worm leads, with a tone that can be clean or dirty as required

Their sound ranges from straight up hard rock in tracks like The Mountain to the pop-flavoured acoustic Background Noise and folky To …