Short-listed Quebec directors on pins and needles ahead of Oscar noms
Quebec filmmaker Marianne Farley, whose short film Marguerite is one of two Quebec films shortlisted for an Oscar for best live-action short, is seen at a Plateau coffeehouse on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette
“I’m not a patient person,” Marianne Farley said.
The Quebec actress, filmmaker and former singer was referring to the restlessness driving the numerous projects she has on the go, but she could just as easily have been talking about the date on her calendar she is trying hard to ignore: Tuesday, Jan. 22.
That is the day the final nominees will be announced in the Oscar category of best live-action short. Farley’s short film Marguerite and fellow Quebecer Jérémy Compte’s Fauve were among the 10 films shortlisted in the category on Dec. 17.
Three weeks later, and with a week and a half to go, the two filmmakers are doing their best to not get ahead of themselves, and to simply enjoy the moment.
“It’s already a dream come true,” Comte said, reached on his cellphone Thursday while on a beach vacation in Mexico. “The Oscars always seemed so far away. When I was small, I used to say ‘I want to get there.’ It’s becoming more and more (of a possibility).”
The Oscars have become an incredible springboard for Quebec films during the past decade, with Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar and Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle nominated for best foreign language film in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. Their careers have all taken off in a big way since.
The award show’s live-action shorts section shines a spotlight on the next generation of film talent. And with two of the 10 coveted spots on this year’s shortlist, Quebec cinema is again making waves.
Industry reference The Hollywood Reporter recently tagged Marguerite and Fauve as “front-runners” in the category, and it’s easy to see why. Both films plunge viewers into surprisingly stirring depths of emotion within their short running times.
With its 19-minute running time, Marguerite explores the tender relationship between an elderly woman and her nurse. When she learns something about the nurse’s personal life, Marguerite is brought to reflect on her regrets and unfulfilled desires.
“I used to have nightmares when I was 10 years old,” Comte said, explaining his inspiration for the film. “I would get cornered in these dreams. And when I was young, in the country, we walked around in forests and played tricks on each other. I wanted to talk about the cruelty of childhood and the machismo of boys who have to prove themselves. It’s also about the impact of nature, which can be an antagonist but also an ally.”
Fauve has played at 125 international festivals, winning 65 prizes, beginning at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the special jury award. But all those accolades are nothing compared with the prospect of an Oscar nomination.
“Oh my God,” Comte said. “I’m trying not to think about it, but it’s hard. I have no expectations. I’m trying to tell myself I’m already proud to be here. If it goes any further, all the better.”