Montreal director going to Cannes with short film

When François Jaros didn't get into Concordia's film program, he learned the ropes on his own. Since then, Jaros has directed two award-winning shorts and a third that's screening at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

François Jaros taught himself filmmaking after not getting into Concordia University

Karelle Tremblay stars in a short film about a late night encounter between a young woman and long-haul trucks. (Sébastien Raymond/La Boîte à Fanny)

Montreal filmmaker François Jaros thought he'd received a rejection email until he saw the word "Félicitations."

His short film Oh What a Wonderful Feeling had been selected for the Semaine de la critique at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. 

Now he's awed that the festival picked his unfinished 14-minute short about a young woman at a truck stop at night. 

He calls it a "strange coming of age": A young woman goes from childhood to adulthood in a single night, from "prey to predator."

'Parallel world'

Jaros says he's always been fascinated by the "sort of parallel world" of truck stops.

"Things happen there we're not aware of," Jaros said, "lonely men, big dangerous trucks."

Jaros thinks he got into the Semaine de la critique because his film pushes the storytelling: The plot plays out off screen.

"I wanted to suggest a story, to guide the audience instead of pushing them along," he said.

Jaros is already an award-winning filmmaker with two Quebec Screen Awards for Toutes des connes, a 5-minute story about a breakup, and Maurice, a portrait of a dying man. 

His films have also been screened at Sundance and Telluride Festivals. 

Jaros grew up filming commercials for his father's advertising business. After graduating from CEGEP Brébeuf in Montreal, he applied to Concordia University's film school but didn't get in.

"It felt bad at first, but maybe in retrospect it was a good thing," he said. "I was proactive. I went on and did films instead of studying them." 

Place of discovery

The Semaine de la critique has the reputation of being a place of discovery. Filmmakers such as Denys Arcand, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ken Loach, Wong Kar-wai and Guillermo del Toro all got their start at that Cannes event.

Oh What a Wonderful Feeling is produced by Fanny Laure-Malo who has been to Cannes twice before with a short and a feature, Sarah préfère la course by Chloé Robichaud.  

So Laure-Malo knows about Cannes' madness, and she's hopeful that this early recognition of the short will auger well for Jaros. 

"I've been pushing him to see his own fears and feelings would resonate with the public, and I'm so happy to there is such a big resonance so early in the process," Laure-Malo said.


Jeanette Kelly works as the arts reporter at CBC Montreal. She's also the host of Cinq à Six, Quebec's Saturday afternoon culture show on CBC Radio One.