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This country has a knack for producing amazing directors: David Cronenberg, Ivan and Jason Reitman, Normal Jewison, James Cameron - the list goes on. And while Denis Villeneuve is certainly on that list, he's also something of an anomaly: a Canadian, making Canadian films that resonate beyond our borders.
Born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Denis' childhood heroes were directors like Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick (who, by the way, made Denis' favourite film: '2001: A Space Odyssey.') At 20, Denis got a crash course in filmmaking: He won a Radio Canada film competition called "La Course Destination Monde" ("Race Around the World"), which challenged him to make 20 short films in just seven months. After that, he did some music videos, made some more short films, and eventually got into features.
In 2000, Denis made the dark and original, "Maelström", a bleak, touching and sometimes funny story, narrated by a talking fish. After a long, self-imposed hiatus, Denis returned in 2009 with "Polytechnique", his poetic, haunting recreation of the 1989 Montreal Massacre - despite the painful subject matter, Denis insisted that film could be an instrument of healing. Polytechnique won nine Genie awards, including Best Picture.
Lately, Denis has caught the world's attention: He's been named one of 10 filmmakers to watch by Hollywood trade mag Variety, and his latest film, "Incendies", is Canada's pick for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It follows twins on a trip to the Middle East, exploring their mother's violent past.