The Eight Day (Le Huitieme Jour)

Thursday, October 21, 2004 – 7:30 pm
France/Belgium/UK 1996. Director: Jaco Van Dormael

The plot of ‘The Eighth Day’ is sentimental, straight forward and perhaps a little well worn. Georges – an unsophisticated and happy character (played by Pascal Duquenne) teaches Harry, a complex and unhappy character (played by Daniel Auteuil) how to embrace simplicity and freedom. However the film transcends its conventional story line on two levels. Pascal Duquenne is a professional actor in Belgium who just happens to have Down’s Syndrome. Due to the presence of Duquenne, and his fine acting skills, the film challenges a number of stereotypes and at times provides a painful glimpse into the prejudices directed towards those with intellectual disabilities. For their roles in ‘The Eighth Day’, Duquenne and Auteuil were jointly awarded the best acting prize at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival – a well-deserving homage to the depiction of their friendship that develops and matures throughout the film. ‘The Eighth Day’ is also memorable for the innovative and whimsical visual style employed by Van Dormael. The unexpected sights include an ant being trapped inside a vacuum cleaner and a literal and effective sixty-second pause. Touchingly, at one point Duquenne visually transforms the term “mongoloid” from a derogatory label into an image of romance and courage. Colour, 35 mm, 118 mins. In French with English subtitles.

The program will include a post-screening discussion with:
Dr. Robin Friedlander
, Clinical Associate Professor, UBC Dept of Psychiatry; Clinical
Director, West Coast & Fraser Valley Mental Health Support Teams and BC Children’s
Hospital Neuropsychiatry Clinic.

Evening moderated by:
Dr. Harry Karlinsky
Director of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.

Co-sponsored by the BC Association for Mental Health in Developmental Disability, Down Syndrome Research Foundation, & Lower Mainland Down Syndrome Society.