MONTREAL – A Quebec filmmaker whose first feature was selected Wednesday to represent Canada in the Oscars’ foreign-language film category says the choice should be a boost for the country’s female directors.
“I’m very proud becasue I think there are a lot of young women directors with big talent who are now ready to shoot their first feature film,” Sophie Dupuis said after Telefilm Canada’s announcement.
“It will maybe help them to . . . have their voice heard.”
Dupuis, a native of Val-d’Or who is in her early 30s, directed “Chien de Garde” (“Family First”) on a budget of about $1.5 million. It is a crime drama centred in Montreal’s Verdun neighbourhood about a young man involved in a drug cartel run by his uncle.
Starring Jean-Simon Leduc, Theodore Pellerin, Maude Guerin, Paul Ahmarani and Claudel Laberge, it was considered a dark horse up against Canadian film legend Denys Arcand’s “The Fall of the American Empire.” Arcand is the only Canadian director to have won the best foreign film Oscar.
Dupuis said she was on her way to the grocery store two hours before the official announcement when she received the call to say her film had been chosen.
“I was sure it wasn’t going to be us,” she said. When she informed cast members, they first thought she was joking and then, “they were screaming.”
Christa Dickenson, Telefilm’s executive director, said that at a time when “gender parity is on the tips of everybody’s tongues,” it was “exciting” to see a female director chosen.
“Chien de Garde” will now compete with films from dozens of other countries for a spot on the list of official Oscar nominations.
The ceremony is set for Feb. 24 in Los Angeles.