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Made Here

Farming collective in rural Quebec highlighted in new local film premiere

The Act of Beauty

The Act of Beauty, the latest premiere in Vermont Public's Made Here documentary series, features the farming collective Sageterre, led by writer and philosopher Jean Bédard. Nestled at the heart of the Bic mountains, in the Lower St. Lawrence region of Quebec, exists a community of people living simply and welcoming all.

Filmmaker Nicolas Paquet answered questions about the film via email with Vermont Public's Eric Ford. This interview has been lightly copy edited.

Eric Ford: How did you discover the collective Sageterre and decide to make the film?

Nicolas Paquet: I first discovered Sageterre about 15 years ago. We were doing some research for another film project and a friend told us that we had to meet with Jean Bédard and talk about the land we live on. I was charmed by the farm and its people. It took me more then 10 years before I started working on the film there. I waited until I felt confident about my capacity to illustrate the beauty of Sageterre in a documentary.

Image of director Nicolas Paquet
courtesy the filmmaker
The Act of Beauty director Nicolas Paquet

Eric Ford: Can you tell us a bit about the writing of Jean Bédard and how that influenced your film?

Nicolas Paquet: I read many of Jean's books. The one called Le pouvoir ou la vie was an inspiration for me. But it's Journal d'un réfugié de campagne that was crucial for the film. It's a nice blend between daily chores and work on the farm and strong philosophical thoughts. As I was writing the project, I felt that the words of that book should be the "spine" of the film. So I picked excerpts from the book that I ran by Yvon Rivard, Jean's editor, and other people from Sageterre. I also decided to read one of the texts aloud that is featured in the film.

Eric Ford: The region of the Lower St. Lawrence in Quebec seen in The Act of Beauty feels very similar to rural Vermont — what is your impression of this part of Quebec?

Nicolas Paquet: Lower St. Lawrence is pictured in almost all the film I've made. This is a land of great landscape and people. I decided that I have all the "material" I need to build film about our relation to the land in my own region, without having to travel far away. 

Eric Ford: What were some of your goals in making this film?

Nicolas Paquet: The main goal of the film was to invite people to connect to the beauty around them, especially the beauty of nature. And to act collectively, to stay away from individualism and its disastrous impacts.

Eric Ford: What are you working on now?

Nicolas Paquet: I just finished a new short documentary called Hideouts. This is an intimate journey in the experience of hunting in hides, where hunters have to stay silent all day long, in their small cabin, in order to wait for a animal to come. This is also a strong connection with nature.

"The Act of Beauty" premieres on Vermont Public's main TV channel at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 28 and is available now on demand.

As Director of Content Partnership, Eric works with individuals and organizations to make connections leading to more Vermont stories. As Producer of the Made Here series, Eric partners with filmmakers from New England and Quebec to broadcast and stream local films. Find more info here: