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The Legend of Memphré: Monster madness

Monster madness

Photo: Howard Chackowicz and Bernie Mireault

Local doc dudes go on a hunt for Memphré

Ari Cohen and Evan Beloff, the boys behind local documentary production house Diversus, like to dive headfirst into the subjects of their films and blur the line between the back and the front of the camera. The makers of the infamous Being Osama have led projects in past years like Schmelvis, a cross-America road-trip quest to prove Elvis’s Jewish roots, and more recently Montreal Confidential, aired on Global TV not long ago, which followed the filmmakers’ adventures with a team of 20-somethings on a cross-Quebec tour. The duo thrive on participation – no one could possibly accuse them of not being game.

Their new adventure comes in the form of a monster hunt. Ari Cohen set out with his team last summer to explore the myth of the Memphrémagog lake creature, dubbed Memphré. Supposedly born as a native folk tale in the late 18th century, designed in part to keep children away from the treacherous waters, the legend – our own local Loch Ness monster – has only grown with passing years. Over two hundred sightings of an approximately 30-foot-long, dark-coloured, humpbacked creature have been recorded to date, and locals of both Magog, Quebec, and Newport, Vermont – both of which give onto Lake Memphrémagog – have devoted their lives and careers to the myth.

Diversus’s humorous adventure doc The Legend of Memphré follows Cohen as he squeezes into his wetsuit in a dedicated effort to meet Memphré. The team tracks down an impressive slew of specialists and eyewitnesses both in Quebec and the U.S., including paranormal investigators, parapsychologists, psychics and crypto-dracontologists. Cohen’s enthusiastic adventurousness and the interviews he conducts are by turns informative and hilarious, and uncover a fascinating area of Quebec history – one that turns out to be much more politically trepidacious than ever expected.

Isa Tousignant

Catch The Legend of Memphré on the Space Network, October 27 at 10 p.m.

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