Guelph filmmaker bringing Franco-Ontarian perspective to Canadian film industry

Karolyne Pickett is producing and acting in her first feature-length drama, Broken Waters or Eaux Troubles, a bilingual film centred on two Franco-Ontarian women in the 1980s.

Filming underway in Ottawa for bilingual movie Broken Waters

Karolyne Pickett produced and stars in Broken Waters, a bilingual film about a patient and psychiatrist set in the 1980s. (Supplied)

A Guelph filmmaker is hoping to break down the barriers between French and English movies in Canada.

Karolyne Pickett is producing and acting in her first feature-length drama, Broken Waters or Eaux Troubles, a bilingual film centred on two Franco-Ontarian women in the 1980s.

Pickett stars as Isabelle, a woman experiencing an imaginary pregnancy. Dr. Marguerite Dubé wants to cure Isabelle, but comes up against challenges in both her marriage and the male-dominated field of psychiatry. 

"At that time there was a new treatment that was in its infancy, which is today widespread and accepted as very effective, and that is psychotherapy," Pickett told CBC's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris. "And so that's what this psychiatrist is trying to do, as she's trying to change the way that things are done."

The script is inspired by the play J'ai beaucoup changé depuis by Jocelyne Beaulieu. Although the play is entirely in French, Pickett said she wanted to tell a story about Franco-Ontarian characters.

While some bilingual films have found success, like 2006's Bon Cop Bad Cop, Pickett said they often focus on the clash between the languages and cultures.

"In this case here, we have a portrait of what real life is like on a day-to-day basis for Franco-Ontarians in particular, where we use French amongst ourselves and we use English with anglophones, and that's just the normal everyday life that we lead," she said. 

Dr. Marguerite Dubé is an ambitious psychiatrist who puts her career and marriage on the line to prove she can cure a patient from her imaginary pregnancy. (Supplied)

The language divide

Pickett started her production company Believe Films Inc., in 2004, with the goal of bringing the Franco-Ontarian perspective to Canadian films and shattering the divide between French and English filmmaking.

Although the industry has begun to recognize that false divide, she said, change has been slow and finding funding for Broken Waters has been "impossible."

Pickett said it was also difficult to find people who could read and analyze the bilingual script while the project was in development.

"It's just been set up from I imagine decades ago where if you were making a French film, the assumption is that you are a Quebec-based producer and if you are making an English film you are based outside of Quebec," she said.

"And so it's not francophones outside of Quebec that were kind of forgotten, but also anglophones in Quebec. And they have a story as well."

Filming wraps up next week and Pickett hopes to have the movie ready in time for the 2020 festival circuit, with plans to submit Broken Waters to the Cannes film festival in France and the Toronto International Film Festival.


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