Most children have this fascinating ability to marvel at small things. They are curious and imaginative. Faced with a problem, they often find solutions so simple that they make adults smile. In Jules au pays d’Asha, we find all these charming characteristics of youth. It only gives one desire: to listen to his child’s heart and go on an adventure.

In this family tale that won an award at the last Montreal International Children’s Film Festival, Sophie Farkas Bolla transports young and old “somewhere [in] North America” ​​to the 1940s. We meet Jules ( Alex Dupras), a resourceful and curious, but solitary boy. Afflicted with a very rare skin disease, he is the target of ridicule in the village to such an extent that he can no longer attend school.

When his faithful canine companion Flagrant flees into the woods, Jules crosses paths with Asha (Gaby Jourdain). The young native tells him that his mother could cure him. The only problem: she doesn’t know where she is. Is it on the “current Indian reservation” that Jules saw on a map? To find out, the duo undertakes a great expedition.

Through the quest of the two children, we marvel at the beauty of the landscapes filmed in the Laurentians, Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Baie-James. The verdant forest seems almost magical through the lens of Sophie Farkas Bolla, who is making her feature debut here. An impression amplified by the joyful music that accompanies the young adventurers during their journey punctuated by astonishing events, such as this night lit by fireflies.

First, by recounting the birth of a friendship without judgment, in which differences are seen as strengths. A friendship nourished by a reciprocal interest in getting to know each other. In this sense, the film allows you to learn more about Aboriginal history and culture, especially thanks to the character of the benevolent Niimi (Kevin Papatie), without however becoming too educational and boring.

Then, by showing that in the replies of children sometimes hides a great wisdom that we would benefit from listening to. When Jules asks his mother (Marilyse Bourque) why his uncle, who is mayor of the town, hates the natives, she replies that he needs their territory to expand the village. “Can’t we just share it?” “replies the boy. A question that makes you think.

Note also the performance of Emmanuel Schwartz in the role of this cold, strict and mean man. Marilyse Bourque offers some of the most touching scenes with her son’s interpreter, Alex Dupras. We also feel a great bond between the young actor and Gaby Jourdain, who plays Asha. For the latter, it is her first steps in the cinema.

If the offer of Quebec children’s films has been rather weak in recent decades, the year 2022 seems to mark a turning point that we can only rejoice. Coco farm, Katak, le brave béluga, Cœur de slush and now Jules au pays d’Asha testify to the quality of local productions for children and teenagers. Feature films that have nothing to envy to those of Disney or DreamWorks, apart from their budget, of course.