Toronto critics name 'Polytechnique' best film of '09
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 13, 2010 11:58AM EST
TORONTO - Quebec cinema was the toast of the Toronto Film Critics Association Tuesday as Denis Villeneuve's "Polytechnique" was named best Canadian feature of 2009 and phenom moviemaker Xavier Dolan got a rising artist award.
"At least nobody can accuse us of being Toronto-centric,'' Brian D. Johnson, TFCA president and film critic for Maclean's, said at the awards gala attended by eminent directors including David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan.
"Polytechnique,'' which examines the murderous rampage at Ecole Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989, won the $10,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award. It was up against another Quebec film, "The Necessities of Life'' directed by Benoit Pilon, as well as Bruce McDonald's "Pontypool.''
Johnson called "Polytechnique'' "a film of astonishing courage,'' and Villeneuve said it was emotionally taxing to make.
"It was a very long and tough process to do this movie,'' he said in an interview on the red carpet.
"It was a fantastic, human voyage, but still it was a tough one and it was tough from the first interview until the last day of editing.''
Dolan, 20, received the $5,000 inaugural Jay Scott Prize for emerging talent for his smash directorial debut, "I Killed My Mother'' ("J'ai tue ma mere''), a semi-autobiographical portrayal of a teen's explosive relationship his single mom, Chantale (Anne Dorval).
Dolan also wrote, produced and starred in the searing drama, which won three awards last year at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Opening Feb. 5 in Toronto, "I Killed My Mother'' is now Canada's official entry for consideration for best foreign-language film Oscar -- an honour that has Dolan feeling like a bit of a charlatan.
"I somewhat feel like an impostor being a contender aside many other people I admire so much,'' admitted the curly-haired, bespectacled prodigy, who got his start as a child actor.
"I wonder how it is that I belong there. But if people choose me, I'll be flattered and honoured.''
His success, he added, has been "very unexpected.''
"All I wanted with the film originally in the first place was to go to Cannes. There was no above-the-line perspective, like, I couldn't think of anything after.
"Beyond Cannes for me, there were like, no possibilities, but then there were many other festivals and things, and it's great.''
Egoyan, who presented Dolan with the award that's named after the late Globe and Mail film critic Jay Scott, called "I Killed My Mother'' a "remarkable piece of work.''
"Jay would've loved this movie,'' said Egoyan. "It's a film that's raw, it speaks of an experience in a way you feel you've seen before but you've never seen it expressed this way.
"It's just so sincere and breathtakingly assured.''