“I’m going to stick up my posters!” Katherine Jerkovic told me at the end of the interview. She was dragging a box with posters of her new feature film, The Coyote, which will be screened this Friday. An auteur film, it goes without saying. This explains it.

The second feature film by the Quebec filmmaker tells the story of Camilo, a Montrealer in his fifties of Mexican origin who wants to find work as a chef after having had to close his restaurant, Le coyote, a decade earlier. He does housekeeping at night and sends resumes that go unanswered.

We gradually guess the reasons for his setbacks when his drug addict daughter, with whom he has broken ties, introduces him to his grandson, whom he did not know existed. She would like to entrust it to him while she heals. However, at the same time he received an interesting proposal from a restaurant owner in La Malbaie.

These are the kind of characters that we still see too little in our cinema. “Mexican characters, especially in our cinema, are seasonal workers, people who are not very educated,” says the filmmaker, whose mother has lived in Mexico for several years.

Katherine Jerkovic’s father, born in Argentina to Croatian parents, himself taught in the sociology department of the University of Montreal. The filmmaker’s parents, who fled the dictatorship in South America, separated shortly after Katherine’s birth in Moncton, where she lived only briefly. She followed her Uruguayan mother to Belgium and then to Montevideo, which she left at 18 to study cinema at Concordia University in the late 1990s.

“I always had a connection with Quebec because I came to visit my father in Montreal every year,” she says. French was the language of my first schooling. »

Jorge Martinez Colorado, who plays Camilo, an immigrant torn between his professional future and his new responsibilities as a grandfather, was revealed in the series Le temps des raspberries, by Philippe Falardeau… in the role of a seasonal Mexican worker.

The director smiles when I point this out to her. “I think TV is better than movies,” she says of on-screen diversity. There was Amours d’occasion, by Eva Kabuya, Dominos (by Zoé Pelchat), I would like to be erased (by Eric Piccoli). TV took the lead. We see something closer to our reality. »

It’s true. The titles she names, that said, are those of web series with limited reach. You have to look in the sub-menus of Tou.tv for the second season of I would like to be erased to find it (Jean-Nicolas Verreault is particularly admirable there).

Katherine Jerkovic does not give herself a mission to change the representation of certain groups in cinema. She talks about what she knows, like most artists. She won the 2018 Canadian First Feature Award at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for The Roads in February. The story of a young photographer who returns to Uruguay to see her grandmother again, mourning her father and her former life.

The coyote, which was also selected for TIFF last September, was presented at the Festival du nouveau cinema in Montreal as well as in competition at the Santa Barbara Festival in California. It won Best Canadian Film at the Whistler Film Festival, where Jorge Martinez Colorado won Best Actor.

The obvious connection between Katherine Jerkovic’s two feature films is the central role played by recalcitrant grandparents. “There are also in the two films people who have left for long periods of time and who come back to their families and feel like strangers there,” notes the filmmaker. The Coyote is less autobiographical than The Roads. It’s less of a tale of immigrant melancholy. »

Did she have in mind, by reporting on an experience of immigration to Quebec, to get out of certain shackles and clichés?

“At first it was the story of a man who is at a crossroads and who lives in a dilemma. What he experiences is not related to his condition as an immigrant. It could happen to anyone,” she adds.

Katherine Jerkovic describes her film as a reflection on life, with all its unforeseen events and all that is beyond our control. Obstacles that feed our respective paths, she recalls.

Lucid, she is aware that The Coyote is not a popular film destined for huge commercial success. “It is a small offering, for those who will take it. I wanted to open up a space, take the time to offer something outside the overload of images, adventures and emotions. We often try to evoke a strong emotion, an instantaneous reaction. It is not a guarantee that the film will leave a mark. I’m a little against the grain, like others in auteur cinema,” she laughs.

It is in this counter-current cinema that we often discover the works that deserve our attention.