About the Film
This short documentary records the celebration and ritual surrounding a snowshoe competition in Sherbrooke, Canada in the late 1950s. The film marked the beginning of a new approach to reality in documentary and prefigures the trademark style of the National Film Board of Canada's newly formed French Unit. Today, Les Raquetteurs is considered a precursor to the birth of direct cinema.
Direct cinema is a documentary genre that originated between 1958 and 1962 in North America—principally in the Canadian province of Quebec and in the United States—and was developed in France by filmmaker/antropologist Jean Rouch. It is a cinematic practice employing lightweight portable filming equipment, hand-held cameras and live, synchronous sound that became available because of new, ground-breaking technologies developed in the early 1960s. These innovations made it possible for independent filmmakers to do away with a truckload of optical sound-recording, large crews, studio sets, tripod-mounted equipment and special lights, expensive necessities that severely hog-tied these low-budget documentarians. Like the cinéma vérité genre, direct cinema was initially characterized by filmmakers' desire to capture reality directly, to represent it truthfully, and to question the relationship between reality and cinema