Archive of films Drifting States / Les états nordiques

2005, 91 min

Section: Future Frames’ Mentor: Denis Côté
Year: 2017

Christian is in his early thirties and his solitary life is wrapped up in his mother, who is lying in a coma in a Montreal hospital. It's more an act of despair than selfishness that propels him one day to turn off her life-support machine, allowing him to try cautiously to begin a new existence in the far north of Canada.


A sudden impulse leads Christian to disconnect his comatose mother from life support after a long period in the hospital, where he visited her regularly. He then gets in his car and doesn’t stop driving until he reaches the town of Radisson nearly 2,000 kilometers away. For a man paralyzed by guilt, this is the ideal place – a town where nobody asks him about his past, inhabited by people from all over the world who came here in the 1970s to build a giant hydroelectric plant. Slowly and timidly he establishes himself; he begins to form relationships with those around him and tries to understand his life. Only the final scene shows that we can never escape our past. This low-key film is unusually focused and simple: a slow tempo, long shots, spare dialogue, extended periods of silence, and short but compelling musical motifs. The film achieves a rare level of spontaneity and authenticity thanks to its lead actor (Christian LeBlanc), but also through its documentary-style filmmaking, and camerawork that clearly perceives the unique atmosphere of an environment that some might deem unphotogenic at first glance.

Zdena Škapová

About the director

Denis Côté

Denis Côté (b. 1973, Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, Canada) is an independent director and producer living in Quebec. He studied film at Collège Ahuntsic in Montreal, after which he began shooting short films (a genre he still works in) and working as a radio film critic (1999–2005). After his successful festival hit Drifting States (2005 – Golden Leopard in Locarno), he shot several meditative documentaries (Carcasses, 2009; Bestiaire, 2012) and eight features that earned him various awards, including a Silver Leopard at Locarno for All That She Wants (2008) and the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlinale for Vic+Flo Saw a Bear (2013 – Horizons at KVIFF 2013). Karlovy Vary audiences may also remember Joy of Man’s Desiring (2014) and Boris Without Beatrice (2016). His films are difficult to classify: He is interested in individuals in crisis and often experiments with form, for instance by mixing fiction with documentary and video.


Mels Studios
1600, Boulevard de Maisonneuve Est, H2L4P2, Montréal
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Future Frames’ Mentor: Denis Côté
Director: Denis Côté
Screenplay: Denis Côté
Dir. of Photography: Denis Laplante
Editor: Rafaël Ouellet
Producer: Denis Côté, Stéphanie Morissette
Production: nihilproductions
Cast: Christian LeBlanc
Sales: Mels Studios


Denis Côté

Film Director


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