Young Quebec filmmaker Xavier Dolan received a standing ovation at Cannes on Sunday for his debut movie, J'ai tué ma mère, a coming-of-age film.
Dolan, 20, earned the rare distinction of a premiere at the Directors' Fortnight, the prestigious French film series that runs parallel to the Cannes Film Festival.
"It was pretty moving actually," an excited Dolan said in an interview Monday with CBC's Q cultural affairs show.
"People loved it and we had a standing ovation for about eight minutes.… I feel like three years of effort and editing and time and money and everything is now worth it. "
J'ai tué ma mère is about the troubled relationship between a teenaged boy who is just discovering his homosexuality, and his lower-middle-class mother, played by actress Anne Dorval.
Everything his mother does annoys the young man, from the way she eats to the way she dresses to the way she behaves with him, and the result is some often hilarious teen blow-ups.
"It's kind of autobiographical, but you can't think that the movie is some kind of documentary. It's inspired from what I lived with my Mom when I was younger and being a teenager at home," he said.
"I took some liberties when I wrote the screenplay because I didn't want it to be so similar to reality and to what it was. The mother is not the mother that I have in my life."
Dolan said in making the film, he drew on his guilt over the way he spoke to his mother and nostalgic elements of his teen years in the 1990s.
He wrote the movie while he was still a teenager.
"I actually wrote a novella when I was still in high school.… I actually dropped out of college and then I wrote the screenplay, which was inspired from the novella. Then I put the thing in the drawer because I thought it wasn't worth it," he said.
Dolan paid for film with acting work
He said he was encouraged by Quebec actress Suzanne Clément, who read the screenplay and told him he should develop the movie.
The film cost about $800,000, most of it money Dolan had saved from working as a child actor. Dolan wrote, directed and starred as the troubled teen.
He was turned down for financing by Telefilm Canada, but got some cash from Quebec's SODEC film funding agency.
"Director's Fortnight is where a lot of young talent tends to get discovered," said Brian Johnson, a Maclean's reviewer at Cannes who also spoke to Q.
"There's a tradition in Quebec for these kinds of films, kind of punky coming-of-age films," he said, comparing Dolan's film to C.R.A.Z.Y., a 2005 film by Quebec's Jean-Marc Vallée.
J'ai tué ma mère will debut in Quebec on June 5 in Montreal and Quebec City.