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Denis Villeneuve

Quebec’s acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve talks to Screen during Toronto about his fourth feature, the multi layered tragedy Incendies.

Previous Palme D’or winner for short Next Floor, Quebec’s acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve has received raves in both Venice and TIFF for his fourth feature Incendies, a heart-wrenching tragedy with a surprise ending.

In a sit-down with Screen during TIFF, the bilingual film auteur – also director of Polytechnique which swept Canada’s Academy awards — speaks freely about his latest multi-layered film, as well as his lifelong dream of making a sci-fi picture.

What would you say Incendies is about on the surface?

Twins find out in their mother’s last will and testament that the father, that they have never met, is still alive and that they have a brother they knew nothing about.

How would you describe the film’s emotional layers?

It’s about the way anger travels in a family. It has parallels on an individual level, a family level and on a society level, so it’s both a modern topic and a kind of Greek tragedy wrapped up like a great thriller.

How was it inspired by Wajdi Mouawad’s play?

I was astonished by the beauty and passion of the play; I called him the morning after I saw it.

Most times that I hear such stories, it’s Shakespeare or written by someone who died 300 years ago, or by someone living in Paris. This was written by someone only three blocks from my house.

Without giving away the ending, can you talk about why it twists and turns so much?

Because it is also a movie about consolation. The audience is not left alone. It’s obviously not a Hollywood happy ending, but it has a mature feeling of hope. To be a real adult, you have to be free of your anger from the past.

Which unlikely films may have influenced you in your past?

I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind when I was a kid and I’ve wanted to make a sci-fi film ever since. So maybe I better get on with it!

Does that mean your next picture will be a science-fiction thriller?

I’m not sure yet. I’ve just done two features in a row and I’ve got another personal project that I need to write, but I’d also like to make a sci-fi film. I’ll let you know when I decide.

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