Rhayne Vermette’s feature is deeply embedded in family and place. The director plays Renée, a woman returning to her rural family home in the Métis Nation, and the community welcomes her back with lively fireside gatherings and warm conversation. Renée’s family home is now occupied by her brother Modeste and his wife Elenor, who have been looking after Renée’s daughter Athene for several years. When asked why she has two mothers, Athene replies “I’m just lucky.” Like her namesake, she seems to Renée to have been born fully formed, but the home Renée wishes to give her daughter is still a fantasy on the unbuilt lot.

Ste. Anne registers as a deeply personal film – Vermette’s family play Renée’s family members – but one that deconstructs a traditional narrative structure to explore the roots and rootlessness of identity rather than one that relies on autobiography. Grainy footage and diegetic sound design capture impressions of familiar land and habits, and new sounds and colourful corruptions in the film refract these routines through Renée’s changing perspective. The focus is rarely on human faces – rather on the natural world, a photograph showing where a house will be, or a hand skipping rocks across a lake. Renée’s story is told through her surroundings rather than herself.

This expanse of observation allows past and present to merge, and the dramatic tension comes from reckoning with history in a family moving forward. A French cover of Norma Tanega’s “You’re Dead” plays over the credits – a joyful paean to worlds ending and soldiering on regardless.

Early in the film Athene says that the places she sees in dreams are not always friendly, but Ste. Anne spends its eighty minutes dissecting small connections and forgiveness in familiar topographies. The result is a conclusion decidedly at odds with the initial assessment.



CAST: Rhayne Vermette, Isabelle d’Eschambault, Jack Theis, Valerie Marion, Dolorès Gosselin, Roger Vermette, Andrina Turenne, Denise Tougas, Yvette Deveau, Paulette Cooksey, Rhéanne Vermette

DIRECTOR: Rhayne Vermette

WRITER: Rhayne Vermette

SYNOPSIS: Renée returns to her family home in the Métis Nation to reconnect with her family and show her daughter her planned home for them both.