“Jules in the land of Asha is the culmination of a long process of reflection,” says Sophie Farkas Bolla from the outset.

A reflection that began ten years ago when she was working as an editor on the documentary Angry Inuk by Inuit director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril.

“At the time, I was surprised at how much I was learning [about Native people]. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t learned that in school,” she said, pointing out that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was running its course at the same time.

This issue has become essential in his eyes.

“I was trying to find a way to talk about it in a human way to the children so that they would open their hearts to each other, so that a curiosity would lead them to talk to each other and eventually move forward together to a more inclusive future. »

Thus were born the characters of Jules and Asha who, despite their differences and the disapproval of some adults, become friends.

Moreover, in the film, at no time do the two protagonists judge the culture of the other, underlines the interpreter of Jules, Alex Dupras. No joke either about the skin disease from which the young hero suffers. An example we should follow, thinks the 12-year-old actor we saw in Plan B.

Openness to different cultures is also an element that Gaby Jourdain would like the public to remember from the feature film which won an award at the Montreal Children’s Film Festival in March and has been presented at various international festivals since.

“In films, series or commercials […], we don’t talk enough about Aboriginal people,” says the 13-year-old Innu girl, who had no acting experience before filming began.

Sophie Farkas Bolla found it not only important to talk about it, but also to do so in the most authentic and truthful way possible.

“The whole historical context of the film is inspired by facts that really happened in the Amos region [en Abitibi-Témiscamingue]”, underlines the one who co-wrote the screenplay with Sarah Lalonde.

To do this, she searched the archives of the region. However, there was a problem: “The majority of the texts are written from the allochthonous point of view. When I was looking for the colonization of Abitibi […], there was nothing from the Anishinaabe point of view. »

The director therefore went to meet the elders of Pikogan to find out their version of the story.

Many members of this community located near Amos have also collaborated in the project, particularly as actors.

Despite the research carried out, Jules au pays d’Asha is not a historical or documentary film. It is rather a family tale in which the imagination and magic occupy a central place.

Why did the filmmaker want to address a young audience? “I find there is so much wonder in childhood. As an adult, I’m constantly trying to find it, “answers the one who, in the past, has made short films for this same audience.

And then, there was also this desire to create a work similar to those that rocked his youth.

“I grew up with Tales for All. Every year there was a new movie coming out. I think it’s a beautiful tradition that we have lost, ”confides the one who however notes a revival of Quebec youth cinema recently (think of Coco farm or No chicane in my cabin).

The late creator of the popular series, Rock Demers, was also involved in the project of Jules au pays d’Asha as executive producer. “He helped us a lot in the casting process. […] It was really very valuable,” says Sophie Farkas Bolla.

Unfortunately, Rock Demers died a week before filming began.

“He was a benevolent star for us throughout the rest of the project”, adds, moved, the director.

Like the films in the Conte pour tous series, Jules au pays d’Asha will not only live on the big screen, but also through the pages of a book. “It was Rock [Demers] who had the idea,” rejoices Sophie Farkas Bolla. Written by Chloé Varin and illustrated by Kaïa’tanó:ron Dumoulin Bush, the novel, published by Bayard, will appear in August. “There will also be a podcast in the fall or in early 2024. We will talk about certain themes of the film,” adds the filmmaker. Until then, to mark the release of the feature film, summer parties will take place in about twenty cinemas throughout the province. During these events, a treasure hunt will precede the screening.