High Concept: The Films of Denis Villeneuve


Denis VilleneuveCanada77 minutes200914AB&WFrench

Sep 27
  • Press & Industry screenings and events are only for accredited passes.

Villeneuve's controversial but ultimately cathartic film about the "Montreal Massacre" of December 6, 1989 — in which "anti-feminist" killer Mark Lepine murdered 14 women at the city's École Polytechnique before taking his own life — is a bold and empathetic artistic gesture, an attempt to dramatize and analyze tragedy simultaneously. Shot in gorgeous, ghostly black and white and employing a non-chronological editing scheme reminiscent of Gus Van Sant's Elephant, Polytechnique recreates both the massacre and its aftermath through an array of perspectives, including those of Lepine (Maxim Gaudette), a female survivor (Karine Vanasse, who also helped produce the film and interviewed survivors and witnesses during the project's development phase), and a traumatized male witness (Sébastien Huberdeau), whose survivor's guilt is visualized in an astonishingly lyrical sequence describing a jagged ice floe breaking loose along the shore of the St. Lawrence.