Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuve, screenwriter, director (b at Trois-Rivières, Que 3 Oct 1967). After studying science in Cégep, Denis Villeneuve shifted to filmmaking at the Université du Québec à Montréal. With his original and highly innovative reporting, he won Radio-Canada's Europe-Asia Competition and made the most of his prize, which allowed him to direct a film for the NATIONAL FILM BOARD (NFB). First however, he travelled to the High Arctic with Pierre Perrault to work on sets for the film Cornouailles. The International Development Agency in collaboration with the NFB had chosen multiculturalism as the topic for Villeneuve's NFB film, and Denis Villeneuve found himself in Jamaica to shoot his short film REW FFWD. It tells the story of a photographer whose car breaks down and who ends up in a disreputable ghetto but puts aside his fears and stereotypical attitudes and turns to the locals for help. The film won an award at the Locarno International Film Festival (1994).

Denis Villeneuve then turned to making music videos for such groups as BEAU DOMMAGE and Daniel BÉLANGER, which earned him public and peer recognition. Among them, Ensorcelée won a best video prize; Querer, for the CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, won three awards including most original Canadian video (Much Music Awards, 1995); and Tout simplement jaloux, for Beau Dommage, was named best French-language Canadian video at the Much Music Awards in 1996.

In 1998, Denis Villeneuve directed his first full-length feature, Un 32 août sur terre. It appeared at the Cannes Film Festival in the section "Un certain regard," toured more than 30 international film festivals, and represented Canada at the Oscars Gala. Alexis Martin received the JUTRA for best actor for his role (1998), and the film was ranked best French-language film at the Namur International Film Festival.

Maelström opened in 2000. It was shown in more than 40 countries and received over 20 well-known prizes, including at Festivals in Avignon, Berlin, Mons, Toronto, Montréal, Paris and Vancouver. In 2001, Denis Villeneuve won Jutra and GENIE awards for best director and best screenplay. The film itself received a Genie and a Jutra for best film, and further Jutra awards for artistic direction, photography, editing, and sound. At the World Film Festival in Montréal (2001), it took best film and the Grand Prize of the Americas.

Returning to shorts, Denis Villeneuve then directed Next Floor, which received the Grand Prix Canal + when it was presented at Cannes International Critics' week (2008).

Actor Karine Vanasse had long been considering the project for a movie about the POLYTECHNIQUE tragedy, and she approached Denis Villeneuve as director. With consent from the victims' families, and under Villeneuve's guidance, Polytechnique was made with maximum respect and sensitivity. Through this black and white film supported by sustained music, Maxim Gaudette, who played the unnamed killer with depth and restraint, and Karine Vanasse as a victim, made the tragedy into a living memory. The highly acclaimed film won numerous awards, and critics hailed Denis Villeneuve as among the most talented directors of our time. Among its many prizes were Jutra Awards (2010) for best artistic direction, best editing, best sound, best director (Denis Villeneuve), and best supporting actor (Maxim Gaudette). Genies in 2010 included best film, best screenplay, best cinematography, best editing, best sound overall and best sound editing. Maxim Gaudette received the Genie for best supporting actor and Karine Vanasse for best actress, and Denis Villeneuve was again honoured as best director.

In the fall of 2010, the shattering movie Incendies, inspired by Wajdi Mouawad's play, was released. A Canada-France coproduction, it was shot in Montréal and Jordan. The film describes a brother and sister's search for their father (whom they believe dead) and a brother (whose existence they are unaware of) in an unnamed Middle Eastern country (believed to be Lebanon). It traces the reconstruction of the life of their mother, a cold and distant character, to the fatal conclusion. Maxim Daudet, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Remy Girard and Lubna Azabal hold the title roles.

The film quickly received unanimous acclaim and was distributed in more than thirty countries. It has won dozens of international awards in as many festivals (Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Spain, Warsaw, Montréal), and was nominated for an Oscar (2011) as Best Foreign Language Film, once again highlighting Denis Villeneuve's enormous talent.