Quebec director Chloé Robichaud is at the Cannes Film Festival with her debut feature, Sarah Prefers to Run (Sarah préfère la course), which has been chosen for Un Certain Regard, a program that runs alongside the main competition.
The film premieres Monday and the young filmmaker, just 25, admits she has butterflies looking forward to the experience.
Despite her age, Robichaud is not a Cannes neophyte. She’s been at the French film festival three times before with short films since graduating from the Concordia film program.
Robichaud wrote and directed Sarah Prefers to Run, which stars Sophie Desmarais as an ambitious athlete.
"It’s the story of Sarah — she’s a young runner in a team," Robichaud said in an interview with CBC’s Q cultural affairs show. "She’s invited to join an advanced club but she doesn’t have to money to do it so she decides to marry so she can get loans and a grant from the government but let’s say that the wedding doesn’t go as planned."
Robichaud says she put some of herself in the character of Sarah — she herself wanted to be a runner — but the film is not autobiographical. She believes viewers will enjoy seeing a film that follows a female heroine so closely.
"She’s not the conception of femininity we have usually in film and I think women are going to relate to Sarah in her feelings on the way to behave," she said.
Robichaud is part of a wave of young Quebec filmmakers who have burst onto the international stage in the past few years, among them Denis Villeneuve, director of Oscar nominee Monsieur Lazhar and Xavier Dolan, director of I Killed My Mother and Laurence Anyways.
"I think it’s inspiring — when Denis Villeneuve went to the Oscars and Xavier Dolan went to Cannes at 19 all filmmakers in Canada got some inspiration. ‘We go OK. We can do it too, why not me?’" she said.
Robichaud is making the most of her Cannes experience, seeing films and meeting people. She’s especially keen to meet Sofia Coppola, whose movie Lost in Translation helped encourage her to pursue a career as a director.
Coppola is debuting The Bling Ring at Cannes this year.
"She’s such an interesting director and to have my name alongside her is such an honour," Robichaud said.