Denis Villeneuve’s “Incendies” triumphed over “Splice”, directed by Vincenzo Natali, and “Trigger”, directed by Bruce McDonald to win the 2010 Toronto Film Critics Association’s Rogers Best Canadian Film Award. “Incendies” is described as the epic adaptation of Wajdi Mouawad’s complex stage play about Quebec siblings who uncover their immigrant mother’s tortured history.
To encounter a film of heart-wrenching tragedy, mythic proportions and sweeping visual majesty is rare, but such are the riches of Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies. After last year’s multiple Genie Award-winning Polytechnique, Villeneuve continues his acute examination of women in devastating situations facing complex and harrowing circumstances.
At the reading of their mother Nawal’s will, twin siblings Simon (Maxim Gaudette) and Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) learn for the first time that they have a brother, and that their father, whom they thought was dead, is in fact alive. Among their mother’s various unsettling requests is her final wish that the twins find both brother and father and deliver to them certain sealed letters. Nawal (Lubna Azabal) was a mystery to her children and their relationship is a difficult one. Simon is angry and resistant, but Jeanne feels compelled to respect her mother’s requests.
As a young woman, Nawal fell pregnant out of wedlock in her Middle-Eastern homeland. After narrowly escaping an honour killing, she was forced to give up her baby boy, vowing one day to find him. Shifting back and forth in time, Incendies follows two parallel journeys, expertly interwoven: the twins’ journey to find their brother and father in their mother’s homeland, and Nawal’s journey to find her son. Both journeys shine a disturbing light on Nawal’s past and culminate in a shocking final revelation.
Villeneuve masterfully adapts the acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad, while André Turpin’s arresting cinematography captures the arid landscape of the Middle-East, seamlessly shifting between shadowy corners and stark, bright daylight. Azabal is riveting as Nawal, while Désormeaux-Poulin and Gaudette deliver equally strong performances as the twins. Moving, visceral and epic, Incendiesshows Villeneuve reaching ever greater heights as he probes characters that must face obstacles with extraordinary resilience and love.
Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo | TIFF
Incendies” is the official Canadian entry for the 83rd annual Academy Awards.
“Winning our top Canadian prize two years in a row is a testament to Denis Villeneuve’s brilliance as a filmmaker and the astounding scale of his creative ambition,” says TFCA President Brian D. Johnson, film critic for Maclean’s magazine. “With ‘Incendies’, he has bridged Montreal and the Middle East to create a deeply resonant tragedy about family and the uncontainable nature of war.”
Other awards included Don McKellar presented the TFCA’s Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist to Toronto filmmaker Daniel Cockburn (”You Are Here”) and Patricia Rozema presented the inaugural 2010 Deluxe Student Film Award to Humber College student David Cadiz for his short film “Adventures of Owen”.
A TFCA Special Citation was given to director Bruce McDonald for a year of exceptional creativity. McDonald directed an astonishing four films in 2010: “This Movie Is Broken”, “Trigger”, “Hard Core Logo 2″ and the documentary “Music from the Big House”.