Capsule Review: Rebel

Director Pier-Phillippe Chevigny’s Rebel was inspired by true events. When thousands of illegal immigrants flooded into Canada from the US in 2017,  Quebec’s right-wing groups went on the attack. This live-action short film has been selected for numerous world-class festivals including TIFF, Busan, Regard, Namur, and Vladivostok. It has won numerous awards including the Audience Award at DC Shorts, Best Short Film Award at the Tirana International Film Festival, and the Golden Spike Award for Best Short Film at the Social World Film Festival.

Written by Anna Harrison

    80/100

Rebel is set in Quebec and directed by Canadian filmmaker Pier-Philippe Chevigny, yet within the first thirty seconds, Donald Trump gets name dropped on the radio as the announcer rattles off the number of migrants fleeing to Canada instead of risking deportation under Trump. People much smarter than I have analyzed the rise of right-wing extremism in relation to Trump, but Rebel takes that threat and makes it frighteningly real—and this film was made long before we watched a group of right-wing terrorists storm the Capitol Building. 

Rebel traces a day in the life of Alex (Édouard-B. Larocque), a six-year-old whose father, Dave (Émile Schneider), takes him along to a gathering with his buddies. Dave seems like a good father, affectionate towards his son even if he may be a little rough around the edges. However, as the film progresses, we learn that Dave and his friends belong to a right-wing militia group who are conducting a hunt to smoke out some of the migrants the radio mentioned earlier. 

What started out as sweet slowly unravels as we watch Alex get exposed to the dangerous mindset and beliefs of his father; where the camera started only focusing on Alex with very few cuts or editing, leaving viewers in the dark, as Alex begins to see the darkness of his father’s deeds, the camera movements expand and we begin to see the full extent of the situation alongside Alex.

This all makes the film very compelling, even though some of its plot points might need a bit more explanation. Rebel serves as a chilling reminder of the growing right-wing extremism not only from the United States, but which the U.S. and Trump have certainly emboldened; fortunately, the film ends on a hopeful note for young Alex, suggesting a way to overcome this one day. I hope Chevigny is right.

Rebel Full Short Film

Rebel is currently available for free on Vimeo

You can also read Anna’s Interview with Pier-Philippe Chevigny or you can follow more of Anna’s work on Letterboxd and her website

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