Debuting in the International Panorama section of Series Mania, the Quebecois miniseries “Disobey” approaches the docudrama as an urgent thriller, finding notes of tension in the lead up to the 1980s, determining guaranteed abortion rights for women across Canada.
With the visual polish that has become the signature of Montreal-based Also Productions, the six-part premium drama follows the real-life case of Chantale Daigle (Éléonore Loiselle), a 21-year-old woman who pushed against an abusive ex-partner and two injunctions. lawsuits, eventually leading to a Supreme Court decision that guaranteed body autonomy for Canadian women. And all this in a matter of weeks.
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“For us, it was important [to hit that urgency], because that’s what really happened,” says Also founder Sophie Lorain. “Chantale went through three stages of jurisdiction and reached the Supreme Court in less than two months. While a child grew up inside the house, these gentlemen talked, not deciding whether a fetus had a personality. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking for her.
Written by Isabelle Pelletier and Daniel Thibault, and directed by co-founder Alexis Durand-Brault, “Disobey” follows two parallel timelines, one following the young woman as she emancipates herself from an abusive partner and retrograde legal authority, and one looking back a year before seeing Chantale fall into that early toxic relationship with manipulative Jean-Guy Tremblay (Antoine Pilon, “Matthias & Maxime”).
“Since this is a story about domestic violence and harassment, we needed to center the humans at the center,” says Lorain. “Chantale was a passionate young woman, dominated by naivety and with a full and open heart. And if Jean-Guy was manipulative, he was also very open in the beginning, very charming. Of course, you could see what was coming.”
With the results of the case a mere Wikipedia away, the creative team wanted to play with the uncertainty of the moment while creating a period-accurate setup that, for lack of a better word, didn’t feel too cartoonish.
“The 1980s were not a very pretty decade,” admits Lorain. “So we had to be really careful not to overdo it because things could look like a night sketch too fast. [Because if] this story happened very close to us, it echoes around the world now.”
Founded by Lorain and Durand-Brault in 2019, Also Productions has quickly emerged as a leader in Quebec scripted drama. At this year’s Series Mania, the producers will also perform “Mégantic” – which follows the aftermath of a 2013 oil disaster in the town of Lac-Mégantic – as part of the Coming Next from Quebec showcase, while at home they have just started the production on the third season of “The Sketch Artist”.
A crime drama created by Lorain and Durand-Brault, and starring Lorain alongside acclaimed playwright Rachel Graton and Quebecois stalwart Rémy Girard (of “The Barbarian Invasions” and “Incendies”), the series’ previous two seasons aired with hit numbers at home before selling to over twenty territories worldwide. Global Series Network’s VOD service Walter Presents has acquired US and UK broadcast rights, while Lorain and Durand-Brault are currently developing an English-language remake.
“We are trying to spread our wings,” says Lorain. “We want to serve wider audiences, because we think we have talent and know-how. What we need now are international partners.”
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