The Royal Twenty Centers is set during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. As a reaction to the crippling economic collapse, the Canadian government opened numerous unemployment relief camps where men laboured for; three meals a day, work clothes, a bed, medical care and a wage. In return they committed to hard labour; logging, planting trees, bush clearing, building roads, and constructing buildings. Often working over 44 hours a week, the occupants were offered 20 cents a day, and they became known as the “Royal Twenty Centers”.
Focused around 15 year old Marco’s strained relationship with his father and a reluctant friendship with an outsider, The Royal Twenty Centers is about a boy discovering himself. After the untimely death of his mother, Marco joins his father at a relief camp deep in the woods of the northwest of Canada. The work is grueling and harsh atop the mountain, and Marco finds himself having to fight against more than just the elements to keep up. Although he’s half the size of the other men, and can barely swing his axe right, Marco somehow manages to stay afloat at the camp. Being amongst the slowest workers and most disliked, he finds himself befriended by another outsider. Pierre, a gentle hearted drunk, sees himself in Marco and encourages his artistic aspirations, wanting to show the young boy that he has agency over his life. Marco is reluctantly drawn in by Pierre’s unwavering kindness, but his unabashed peculiarities are despised by Marco’s father. The two outcasts form a tight bond tearing Marco between becoming the man his father wants him to be, and forging his own path. The culmination of boiling tensions and an altercation forces Marco to confront what he’s been avoiding: which path will he choose?
Directed by Stéphane Auguste and Adrian Duvernois (Canada)