Sébastien Pilote

Sébastien Pilote

Pilote was born in St. Ambroise, a Saguenay-region village located in the remote region of Canada's Quebec province in 1973 before moving to Chicoutimi. He discovered the local cinema in his hometown, but the real spark came in college, where he was inspired by one of his teachers. Pilote became obsessed with the medium after a class screening of Ingmar Bergman's "Hour of the Wolf" (1968), and channeled his passion into making his own art. After earning his degree in art and film at the University of Quebec a Chicoutimi, he wanted to bring the creative energy of Montreal's filmmaking scene to Chicoutimi, so he founded the Saguenay International Short Film Festival in 1997 with his fellow filmmaker Eric Bachland. As the film festival continued to thrive, Pilote pursued his career as a director of television news reports for Télé-Québec. During his time at the station, he directed a range of projects, from news segments to over 100 small documentaries, sometimes even operating as his own cameraman. Pilote enjoyed the flexibility of working with a small production team, and sought to create the same versatile shooting style when it came time to develop his first short film, "Dust Bowl Ha! Ha!" (2007). The short was inspired by the closing of a factory in his local region and also featured his father Gérald Pilote in a starring role. As the first of many films that would explore the effects of businesses shuttering in industry-dependent rural communities, the film was widely praised, and was selected for the Locarno and Toronto film festivals, and won awards in Barcelona and Montreal. Just as Michael Moore captured the public's attention with his film "Roger & Me" (1989) about the crumbling economy of his hometown of Flint, Michigan as the American auto industry began to lose steam, Pilote focused his lens on his native Quebec with equal zeal, eschewing the documentary format for something more narrative-driven. His feature debut which he wrote and directed, "Le Vendeur" (2011), told the story of a car salesman on the verge of retirement before his business gets unexpectedly hit after the closing of a local paper mill. As reality mirrored art, the film experienced its share of production problems as locations were closed up due to bank foreclosures, and out-of-work mill workers were even featured in the film. Despite its bleak subject, it was a box-office hit domestically and showed at over 60 film festivals around the world. After his impressive debut, Pilote continued to make his presence felt, with his follow up feature "Le Démantèlement" (2013). Picking up where his last film left off with a factory closing, his next film dealt with what happens after a closing, as things start to "dismantle." To save his daughter from financial ruin, a sheep farmer sells his farm in a story of sacrifice, family and industrialization. In a nod to Pilote's appreciation of the tradition of classic filmmaking, "Le Démantèlement" was the last 35mm film to be developed in Technicolor in Montreal.