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  No dialogue.
Approximate Length: 11 minutes

"Every living thing that shares the planet with us has had to adapt and evolve over millions of years. Every flower, every insect, every animal is a miracle waiting to be discovered, a marvel to be respected and loved. But we like to replace them with our own inventions, served up by the magicians of advertising, the promoters of progress and over-consumption. Unfortunately, these inventions are outmoded all too quickly. They break down, often taking with them that which is essential to our lives and happiness, the elements needed to sustain the real miracles accomplished by nature."
Frédéric Back

Synopsis of the film
In an idyllic natural setting, children are happily at play, surrounded by animal friends. There is gaiety, harmony and discovery, accompanied by laughter and birdsong. Enter a strange figure: a one-man-band. This unusual newcomer turns out to be a magician. He fascinates the children by transforming a rabbit into a mechanical toy and a bird into a whistle. The little ones, delighted, clap and cheer.

The magician goes on and on, casting spells on flowers, forests, and even the sun. Everything is transformed. Smiling nature has become a megalopolis bristling with smokestacks. The children’s pleasure turns to distress. Despite dire threats from the magician, they rally their forces, chase him away and break through the illusion he has created around them. Nature, rediscovered, joyously welcomes the children back.

The message
Frédéric Back has long raged against over-consumption and the pollution it entails. In ¿Illusion?, the activist-artist attempts to portray man’s schism with nature in a way children can understand. Natural beauty, lifestyles and simple pastimes are destroyed to make way for artifice and gimmicks, all in the name of ‘progress.’

¿Illusion? points up the obsession with development that compels humankind to constantly adopt new technologies that are often superfluous, and potentially dangerous. “Rarely are we able to replace what has been destroyed. But the upbeat ending of the film offers a ray of hope and is a source of motivation. We know we are distancing ourselves from nature. We can free ourselves from the shackles of progress and reconnect to what is vital, alive and true!” (F. B.)

Although the film is aimed at young audiences, the story also serves as a springboard for discussion among adults wishing to address these issues themselves or take them up with their children.

The workshops are created for children and teens (ages 5 to 15). Younger children can be guided and accompanied by parents, teachers, supervisors, or older peers who have already completed the workshop. Preteens and teens can engage with the creative process more autonomously.

The activities are suitable for home, school, day camp, day care, the community centre or any other setting conducive to an enriching aesthetic experience inspired by the work of Frédéric Back.

All activities are self-contained units. Choose a 1-hour activity or design a long-term project encompassing various themes that can be tied to the curriculum or program.

Workshop 1: Exploring sound Workshop 2: An “illusion machine” Workshop 3: Noise pollution — I hear you!

Activity Kit Writer: Françine Auger
Assistance with making the musical instruments: Stéphane Simard, Brault & Bouthillier, Montréal
English Translator: Lesley McCubbin

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