Entertainment

AUDIO: Denis Villeneuve on Incendies

Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve said he knew he had to make a film out of Wajdi Mouawad's play Incendies the night he walked out of a Montreal theatre after seeing it for the first time.

Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve said he knew he had to make a film out of Wajdi Mouawad's play Incendies the night he walked out of a Montreal theatre after seeing it for the first time.

"It was the first time I forgot I was in a theatre," he said of the play about Canadian twins who begin exploring their family's past after the death of their mother.

They discover a father they've never met and a brother they knew nothing about, as well family roots set in a Middle Eastern conflict they don't understand.

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is shown Sept. 11 in Toronto. He says Incendies grabbed him from the first time he saw it on stage. ((Chris Young/Canadian Press))

"The ideas of [Lebanese-Canadian playwright] Wajdi Mouawad are very powerful ideas and when I went to see the play in Montreal I was totally astonished by the power, by the beauty of this play," Villeneuve said in an interview with Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC's Q cultural affairs show.

He approached Mouawad about making the film, but the playwright was doubtful it could be done.

Villeneuve, whose previous films include Maelstrom and Polytechnique, began drafting scenes and sending them to Mouawad in an effort to convince him. Eventually, the playwright gave him a free hand.

Villeneuve said he is fascinated by the subject of anger, which is part of the Polytechnique story, as well as a running theme in Incendies. He said it's a subject he will return to again in his filmmaking.

"I was very impressed by the way Wajdi Mouawad was talking about anger," he said in the CBC interview, aired Tuesday. "The way anger is travelling through a family, to parents, to children; the way anger is travelling through a society, between countries."

Incendies is Canada's Oscar contender in the best foreign language feature category. It grabbed the best Canadian feature honours at the Vancouver and Toronto film festivals this year and was on a recent list of the top five foreign films by the U.S.-based National Board of Review.

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