Activist picmaking at its most confrontational, a potent docu that takes auds inside daily life at a communal experiment, set up to get kids off the streets of Montreal. Pic will be useful wherever unions, social progressives, and homeless advocates gather to study the mentalities they are up against. Could get good airplay, too, especially in Europe.

Activist picmaking at its most confrontational, “Squat!” is a potent docu that takes auds deep inside daily life at a short-lived communal experiment, set up to get kids off the streets of Montreal. The subsequent strong-arm tactics used against the squatters seem a warning to those brazen enough to battle the system, but pic itself will be useful wherever unions, social progressives, and homeless advocates gather to study the mentalities they are up against. Could get good airplay, too, especially in Europe.

Fostered by the city in the summer of 2001, an abandoned building is turned into a real home by a ragtag group of runaways, squeegie kids, artists and lifelong rebels, some with children. Pic, which follows the band’s gradual self-organizing efforts (and the unpleasant task of kicking out thugs and druggies), make it clear that squatting DIY, right down to garbage and electricity, will never be a popular lifestyle. So Montreal mayor Pierre Borque comes across as particularly callous when ignorant forces pressure him to reverse his previous support, and police and fire department use increasingly rough tactics to shut the place down, leaving everyone worse off.

Squat!

Canada

Production

A Cinema Libre presentation of a Les Production du Rapide Blanc production, with asssistance from Telefilm Canada, Canadian Film and Television Fund, SODEC, RDI. (International sales: Cinema Libre, Montreal.) Produced by Nicole Hubert. Executive producer, Sylvie Van Brabant. Directed, written, by Eve Lamont.

Crew

Camera (color, BetaSP), Lamont; editor, Louise Dugal; music, Guyt Leblanc. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Canadian Images), Oct. 5, 2003. Running time: 82 MIN.
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