Remember that date who always dragged you to the newest Quebecois arthouse flick at your local indie theatre? Well it’s time to thank them for exposing you to some of the country’s hottest talent before the rest of the world caught on.
Quebec filmmaking and in particular, its exceedingly talented stable of rising directors are now packing cinemas, elevating film festival programs, and rounding out your office Oscar pools.
When Denys Arcand won his 2004 Oscar in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category for his seminal work, The Barbarian Invasion, Quebecois filmmaking became more than just a political act, it became a mainstream intervention.
Franco-filmmakers weren’t only garnering the odd festival prize, they were also creating sleeper smash hits at the box office. Until recently, Bon Cop, Bad Cop, released in 2006, was the highest grossing Canadian film domestically, topping 13 million dollars in sales.
Soon after, Cannes darling Xavier Dolan followed with a series of critically acclaimed works including: I Killed My Mother, Lawrence Anyways, and Tom at the Farm.
Dolan’s last project, Mommy, solidified his place as one of Canada’s best artistic exports and Quebec’s chief auteur.
Since winning the Jury Prize at Cannes, he’s been tapped to direct his first Hollywood film, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan -- starring Jessica Chastain, along with Academy Award winners Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates.
At the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, the coveted opening night slot of the festival will showcase Jean-Marc Vallée’s raw, character-based film style with his new drama, Demolition.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, this project is cut from the same stylistic cloth that saw him garner international attention for C.R.A.Z.Y., and sits comfortably beside his Oscar-nominated features, Dallas Buyers Club; which netted Matthew Mcconaughey and Jared Leto “Best Actor” nods, and Wild; a film that earned Reese Witherspoon an Academy Award nomination for “Best Actress in a Leading Role”.
Denis Villeneuve’s also making his way to the “people’s festival” with his much-anticipated new American crime thriller, Sicario, starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benecio Tel Torro.
After he’s done turning heads in Toronto, the Gentilly, QC native is slated to direct the much-anticipated Blade Runner sequel.
Finally, don’t forget about the likes of Philippe Falardeau, who’s following up his own impressive Oscar-nominated film, Monsieur Lazhar, with a poignant political satire, My Internship In Canada.
Quebec directors Louise Archambault and Louis Choquette’s new creation includes CBC Television’s new one-hour drama series, THIS LIFE.
Archambault delighted international audiences with Gabrielle, her heartfelt drama about disabled choir mates embarking on their first romantic relationship.
Her unique point of view and signature intimate directorial style made the film an instant crowd-and-critic pleaser as it took home the Audience Award at the Locarno International Film Festival as well as the “Best Picture” award at the 2nd Canadian Screen Awards.
She’s since been translating her talents onto the small screen. Last year, Archambault directed episodes of Nouvelle adresse, the original French series that inspired THIS LIFE -- starring Macha Grenon, partner of the previously mentioned Quebec filmmaking star, Denis Villeneuve.
Choquette, on the other hand, is the quintessential Quebec visionary who’s been bridging the gap between the two solitudes throughout his long career.
This award-winning director’s resume includes an encyclopedia of popular French television series’, comprised of such celebrated titles as The Parents, Rumours, and Mafiosa.
Choquette’s emotive and direct visual style translates beautifully to English audiences as well, which was made evident by his skillful adaptation of another renowned Quebec original, 19-2.
As for me, I’m Max Morin, Story Coordinator and your official insider for all things THIS LIFE.