For many people, history is just a (real or fictional) tale which is more or less important for how they relate to their own present. However, for certain categories of people, history and the connections with their own genealogy mark a defining element, an active part in the way they understand and organize their own reality. Perhaps this is the most interesting aspect that director Phil Comeau aims through his short documentary ‘BELLE-ILE IN ACADIE‘, illustrating the return of the Acadians’ European descendants to the lands of their ancestors. Starting from an 18th century event that marked a painful experience for Acadian communities, the project depicts the visit a group of French people in Canada today, on the occasion of the International World Acadian Congress. The theme of identity, of exile, of the way history shapes the perception of the present appears in the subtext recurrently throughout the succession of the participants’ testimonies for whom the Acadian descent is more than a “simple” personal mark caused by a tragic episode in the past, but – more than that – a reason to be proud of.


Thus, connections are created not only between past and present, but also between the culture of the two continents, while the director follows the epiphany of a group of individuals who, by understanding and accepting the historical truth, celebrate the joy of returning to their spiritual home. Phil Comeau handles this insightful journey with talent, avoiding the rigors of a rigid or academic documentary, understanding that perhaps the most effective way to familiarize viewers with a page of history is to follow the chronological thread in reverse, starting from the current context. Thus, the short film is like a celebration of the moment, of the cultural diversity, of the assumed embracing of new mental horizons taking the form of images that are equally dynamic, nostalgic, emotional and vivid. We don’t know if ‘BELLE-ILE IN ACADIE’ is the first step in a more ambitious project, but we are extremely delighted with the way in which it gives us a lesson about the importance of understanding and respecting our own genealogy, even if looking back is a painful process, and even if our present is the result of a long series of tragic events.