The first thing you need to know is this film is based on real events that happened in Québec. It is less important to know that the story has been filmed at least once before, in 1951. The true story has become part of Québec history and a number of books have been written about the events that unfolded in the early 1920s in rural Québec. The film begins in 1909 in the small village of Sainte-Philomène de Fortierville. There, Marie-Anne Caron gives birth at dawn to her second daughter. Marie-Anne and her husband, Télésphore name her Aurore, which is French for Dawn. As Aurore grows she is part of a loving and happy family, but tragedy strikes in 1918 when her mother dies of tuberculosis. Within a week of her mother's death, Aurore's father decides to remarry. He has been smitten by his cousin, Marie-Anne Houde. She even has the same first names as his late wife. But Marie-Anne is not the devoted stepmother everyone takes her to be. In fact she could be the model for all evil stepmothers in literature, but as stated, this film is based on a true story. Anne-Marie quickly takes control of her new home and begins to lay down the law. And the mistreatment of Aurore begins. Mistreatment that results in the death of the child. The film really centres on the last few months of Aurore's 11-year life. A coroner's inquest reveals that she died of blood poisoning, brought on by the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepmother. The sensational trial which followed these revelations had a profound and lasting impact on Quebec society. The film brings back an almost-forgotten period in Quebec's history. What is ultimately chilling is the fact that people in the small village knew what was going on but preferred to remain silent. Even the local clergy was reluctant to intervene and prevent the tragedy.
Release date: July 8, 2005
Canadian distributor: Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm