Quebec makes a strong impression on DIFF 2014

Four films helmed by ­Québécois directors will screen at the Dubai International Film Festival this year, including the Cannes festival Jury prize-winner Mommy about a widow raising her savage son that has already been nominated as Canada’s entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar.
A still from Cannes Jury prize-winning Mommy. Courtesy diff
A still from Cannes Jury prize-winning Mommy. Courtesy diff

Four films helmed by ­Québécois directors will screen at the Dubai International Film Festival this year, including the Cannes festival Jury prize-winner Mommy about a widow raising her savage son that has already been nominated as Canada’s entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. With five features under his belt, the 26-year-old director, Xavier Dolan, is a true prodigy.

Of course, many said the same thing about François Girard 21 years ago, when he took home the Genie award for Canada’s best motion picture at the age of 30. After the success of Thirty Two Films About Glenn Gould, Girard directed plays and operas, shot a Grammy-award winning concert film for Peter Gabriel, directed The Red Violin and wrote and directed two shows for the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil. His effort at Diff, Boychoir, represents his first feature in seven years. Fittingly, it focuses on music, specifically about a temperamental orphaned tween who is whipped into shape by his taskmaster choir director (Dustin Hoffman).

The film premièred in Toronto in September, along with two other films by French-Canadians: Wild and The Good Lie, both starring Reese Witherspoon. Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s book about confronting her demons while traversing the Pacific Crest Trail, is directed by Jean Marc-Vallée. The 51-year-old parlayed his 2005 breakout hit C.R.A.Z.Y, an account of growing up gay in the 1960s and 70s, into a career that included last year’s Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyer’s Club.

In Philippe Falardeau’s The Good Lie, Witherspoon plays a woman who gets drawn into a struggle by Sudanese refugees to rescue one of their sisters. Falardeau’s first English-language film comes only two years after his Monsieur Lazhar opened the Abu Dhabi Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

With only seven out of 35 million Canadians living in Quebec, the province’s cinematic achievements can best be explained with the priority it places on protecting the French language. Of the 811 new motion pictures screened in Canada in 2013, 133 of them were Canadian-made and 121 were French-language. Despite having 20 per cent of the population, Quebec gets a much higher percentage of the $136.2 million Canadian dollar (Dh778mn) in film financing.

artslife@thenational.ae

Published: December 7, 2014 04:00 AM

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