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Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuveb. October 3, 1967, Trois-Rivières, Quebec

One of Canada’s most talented, acclaimed and visually inventive young directors, Denis Villeneuve has parlayed his intimate visual style and unconventional narrative quirks into a burgeoning filmography that is at once impressive and disarming, accomplished and promising.

Villeneuve, who abandoned an interest in entomology to pursue filmmaking, first captured industry attention during Radio-Canada’s “Course destination monde” (1990-91), during which he produced twenty five-minute clips of his global travels and won first prize. His striking, point-of-view short film REW FFWD (1994), produced through the National Film Board, played at film festivals around the world and won a special jury prize at the Locarno International Film Festival.

He assisted legendary documentary filmmaker Pierre Perrault on a film shoot near the North Pole, then went on to direct many award-winning music videos – including the video for Cirque du Soleil’s Querer, which was named Most Visually Innovative Canadian Video at the 1995 Much Music Video Awards – and acted in André Turpin’s directorial debut, Zigrail (1995). In 1996, he wrote and directed a frantic and poignant segment for Roger Frappier’s omnibus film Cosmos, which won the Prix International des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai at the Festival de Cannes.

Villeneuve’s feature debut, Un 32 août sur terre (1998), starring Pascale Bussières and Alex Martin, furthered his oddball style both formally and thematically by offering a harshly edited psychological portrait reflecting the angst of a generation. The film played in the Un Certain Regard programme at the Festival de Cannes, won the award for Best Film at the Namur International Francophone Film Festival and was selected as Canada’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award®.

His widely heralded follow-up film, Maëlstrom (2000), produced by mentor Roger Frappier, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival® where it received a Special Jury Award. The highly original and eccentric film – narrated by a talking fish – went on to win major awards at festivals around the world, including the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, Best Canadian Film at the Montreal World Film Festival, Best Director at the Vancouver International Film Festival and Best Film at the Namur International Francophone Film Festival. It also won Jutra Awards for Best Screenplay and Direction and nabbed five Genie Awards, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director.

By Andrew McIntosh

Film and video work includes

Course destination monde series, 1990 – 1991 (co-director; TV, twenty episodes)

Ensorcelée, 1994 (director; TV)

REW-FFWD, 1994 (director; writer)

Querer, 1995 (director; TV)

Zigrail, 1995 (actor)

Cosmos, Le Technétium, 1996 (co-director and co-writer with Manon Briand, André Turpin, Jennifer Alleyn, et al.)

Tout simplement jaloux, 1996 (director; TV)

Un 32 août sur terre, 1998 (writer; director)

Maëlstrom, a.k.a. Maelstrom, 2000 (writer, director)

À l’insu du plein gré, 2001 (appears as himself)

Note: Updated to June 30, 2005

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