Acadieman is un vrai plaisir 

Chiac animated series by Concordia grad blends French and English

By Anna Sarkissian

<em>Acadieman</em>, created by film production graduate Dano LeBlanc, is a hit in New Brunswick and Ontario and will be coming to Quebec in a year’s time. Magnifying glass

Acadieman, created by film production graduate Dano LeBlanc, is a hit in New Brunswick and Ontario and will be coming to Quebec in a year’s time.

If you’ve never heard anyone speaking Chiac, it can be tough to imagine the combination of French sentence structure, archaic nautical terms and English verbs conjugated in French. Ouf.

But Dano LeBlanc, who graduated from Concordia’s specialization in film in 1990, carries the Acadian dialect with humour in his award-winning animated series Acadieman – now in its third season on Rogers TV.

“T’as probably noticé que je ne parle pas comme le monde du nord ou le monde du Québec,” the main character, Acadieman, says in one episode where he meets Quebec actor Pascale Bussières. She later tells him, “J’suis starvé.”

LeBlanc’s hybrid dialogue has attracted the attention of scholars the world over who are fascinated by his use of Chiac, which is barely represented in pop culture in southeastern New Brunswick, where it originates. His work is in high demand; requests for copies of his scripts have come in from Mexico, Switzerland and France, among others.

The dialect has been widely used for generations in the area surrounding Moncton. It incorporates vocabulary that has long since disappeared from standard French and expressions borrowed from English.

Yet dear Acadieman, who calls himself Le First Superhero Acadien, has come up against criticism for promoting what some call corrupted French.

Acadieman is a real anti-hero. He loves Magnifying glass

Acadieman is a real anti-hero. He loves "the great indoors" and coffee gives him strength.

“We’ve always been told that we’re not speaking properly,” LeBlanc says. “My point of view is that if kids aren’t speaking that way, they would be speaking English.”

With the pressure mounting, LeBlanc says he felt like he had to become a linguist in order to defend his work. He’s hoping to draw attention to these issues in order to start a discussion about the fragility of the French language.

Despite the war of words, the show is a huge success in New Brunswick and Ontario and will start airing on TV5 Canada in Quebec in Jan. 2011.

Acadieman also comes to life in several best-selling comic books and a feature film, which was recently screened at the Cinémathèque québécoise. LeBlanc and his team have received three Impression Awards from Rogers Television as well as prizes at the Yorkton Short Film Festival and the Festival de Film Francophone en Acadie.

Dano Leblanc Magnifying glass

Dano Leblanc

In addition to directing, composing the music and being the voice of Acadieman, LeBlanc has a number of side-projects on the go. He has published several collections of poetry and runs the only established record label in New Brunswick. Back when he was living in Montreal, he was a member of the three-person band that evolved into Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a renowned group of Montreal musicians.

At Concordia, he recalled studying with Matt Hays – a film critic at the Mirror and current communication studies professor – and Ted Whittall – a Gemini-award winning actor. They often watched B-movies with film studies professor Carole Zucker. “We became known as the Zuckerbabies,” he says.

He has been focused on Acadieman since 2005 and admits that balancing his varied interests is tough. But working with a small team allows him to have more creative freedom and build tight-knit relationships.

“This is definitely a labour of love,” he says. “Kids assume I have a sportscar and a gold cowboy hat. But this brings together all the things I love: writing, drawing and making cinema.”

Catch season three of Acadiemanonline. LeBlanc’s feature, Acadieman vs. le CMA, will be screening at the 28th annual Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois between Feb. 17 and 27. Visit their site for details.


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