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Fondations

Documentary
French (Available subtitled in English)

Region: Quebec

Year of Production: 2019

Duration: 82 minutes

Mathieu Collette is excessive by nature. He had struggled with a drinking problem until he found a solution in blacksmithing, a profession he then went on to study in France. His passion helped him to quickly become a master among blacksmiths. He could have made a fortune but decided instead that he owed a debt to society for overcoming his addiction. And it’s through sharing his knowledge that Mathieu has taken up the challenge of making a contribution to a more ecological future, in a way that’s diametrically opposed to creating the kind of folk nostalgia typically associated with traditional professions.

“In an economy dominated by disposable products, traditional crafts are the future because the objects we make are durable. Besides, locally made products don’t need to be shipped from one end of the world to the other. And when the day comes when there is no more oil, there will still be traditional jobs. With a forge, we can rebuild the world again.”

Marc Douesnard is Mathieu’s long-time partner. He’s also a blacksmith and supports Mathieu in his fight with the city. “Mathieu’s done research on finding ancestral techniques for creating tools that no one else knows…But if he’s evicted, you can forget about it. He won’t be able to do it again and that knowledge...will disappear forever.”

Sixteen years after completely renovating it, Mathieu transformed the first pumping station in the City of Montreal into an internationally renowned school for blacksmiths. That’s when the axe fell: an eviction notice from the city. They’ll have to move the forges despite all the energy and money that’s been invested in the building.

Supported by his blacksmith friends, Mathieu decides to fight back. Together they organize a public event bringing together other skilled workers like stonemasons, bricklayers, and carpenters. On that day at 227 Riverside, the artisans demonstrate their skills to a large crowd in a series of hands-on activities. In today’s complex world, with its pervasive technology, the simplicity of the artisan’s work and the direct transformation of the material captivate the public. During closing speeches, many take the opportunity to denounce the city’s plans and huge applause is given to those who loudly and clearly warn that they’ll make a human chain to prevent the eviction of the blacksmiths. Mathieu takes this opportunity to share his ultimate dream. “In the blacksmith project, I wanted to do fundamental research by including all the related professions...I wanted us to go on our own, extract ore from a river and then build tools for the stonemason to make the foundations, the carpenter to make the house, and for the people to cultivate the land…and do it all before winter because it’s getting colder and colder!" Everyone’s laughing...

But the blacksmiths didn’t stop there. Journalists are contacted. A video is posted online and soon, it’s media madness. Mathieu’s in all the major Canadian media. Le Devoir, The Toronto Star, La Presse, Vancouver Herald, The Gazette, CBC, Global...Everyone is up in arms about the possible eviction of the Forges de Montréal.

The battle has begun and the struggle to save the Forges de Montréal is more and more a fight to preserve our collective memory. 

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Argus Productions

DIRECTOR: OLIVIER D. ASSELIN

SCRIPTWRITERS: OLIVIER D. ASSELIN

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