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Kanaval: Family's harrowing journey from Haiti to Quebec told in Montreal director's debut film

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Kanaval is Montreal director Henri Pardo's first feature film and it's already winning awards.

It's an immigration story told through the eyes of a nine-year-old child who makes the journey from Haiti to Quebec with his family in the 1970s.

The film opens Friday night in Montreal. When it premiered at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last year, it won the Amplify Voices Award for Best BIPOC Canadian Feature. It received several other nominations and awards and Pardo will be taking it to festivals around the world.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Pardo wrote and directed Kanaval and it's inspired by his own family's immigration story. He was born in New Brunswick but his parents and sisters fled the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti, and eventually settled in Canada.

The film tells the story of Rico, 9, who flees the country with his mother in the 70's and arrives in a small rural town in Quebec with the help of an older couple. Rico has to adjust to life in a new province, and encounters bullies and racism.

To cope, he conjures up an imaginary friend who becomes his guide to figuring out life in his new world.

The young actor playing Rico is Rayan Dieudonné, who has a very similar story to his character. He and his family left Haiti in 2018 passing through seven countries before arriving in Canada through Roxham Road.

The English subtitled version of the film is screening at Cinéma du Musée at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

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