74 minutes – Drama
Release date: 1964 – Québec
Production company: National Film Board of Canada
Canadian distributor: Pathé Contemporary Films
U.S. distributor: Impact Films
Le Chat dans le sac is still considered one of the most important works produced in French Canada. The reasons for this lasting admiration are historical, stylistic and cultural. Historically, it marks, as Peter Harcourt says “the beginning of a beginning” for modern Canadian fiction feature film. With Le Chat, and a few others, Canadian cinema found itself in synch with the contemporary new wave movements then emerging around the world. Like the works of Jean-Luc Godard, Nagisa Oshima and Richard Lester, Gilles Groulx’s first feature rejected traditional production practices and dealt with the political and social issues that were galvanizing young people everywhere. Stylistically, Le Chat gave Canadian film its own distinctive voice. Borrowing techniques from the homegrown practice of direct cinema, such as hand-held camera, live-sound recording and improvisation, Groulx fostered a hybrid mode of production that merged a loose narrative structure with an aesthetic of immediacy to form a unique blend of docu-fiction that would come to define much of Canadian cinema. Culturally, Le Chat mirrors the 1960s emergence of the Québecois character. As the main protagonist, Claude (Claude Godbout) seeks to shed his colonized French-Canadian identity, questions his rapport with the Canadian “other” (embodied by his English-speaking girlfriend), and tries to understand his connection to the territory he inhabits.
Actors Paul-Marie Lapointe, Jean-V. Dufresne and Pierre Maheu each played three different characters in this production.