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(Set Me Free)

Year: 1999
Language: French
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 94 min
Director: Léa Pool
Producer: Lorraine Richard, Alfi Sinniger, Carole Scotta
Executive Producer: Louis Laverdière
Writer: Léa Pool
Cinematographer: Jeanne Lapoirie
Editor: Michel Arcand
Sound: François Musy
Cast: Monique Mercure, Pascale Bussières, Karine Vanasse, Miki Manojlovic, Nancy Huston, Charlotte Christeler, Alexandre Mérineau
Production Company: Catpics Coproductions, Haut et Court, Cité-Amérique

A highly regarded film based on director Léa Pool’s own adolescence during the sixties, Emporte-moi is a deeply moving portrait of a young girl’s coming of age.

Hanna (Karine Vanasse) is a thirteen-year-old girl caught up in the love-hate relationship of her suicidal Catholic mother (Pascale BussiPres) and her angry, immigrant Jewish father (Miki Manojlovic). Her father is a Holocaust survivor and failing poet whose artistic aspirations have put a heavy emotional burden on his poverty-stricken family. Hanna’s long-suffering mother spends her days in a sweatshop and her nights typing up her husband’s work. In the middle of this domestic strife, Hanna is desperate to find her own identity and meaning in life.

Feeling alienated at her Catholic girls’ school, Hanna finds escape at the movies. Profoundly influenced by Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre sa vie (1962), she watches the film obsessively, drawn by the glamorous feminine mystique of the film’s ill-fated heroine, played by Anna Karina. At the cinema, Hanna meets the boyish Laura (Charlotte Christeler), with whom she develops a delicately romantic friendship. Her relationships with her supportive older brother Paul (Alexandre Mérineau), an understanding teacher (played by writer Nancy Huston) and Laura help Hanna navigate her way through the tricky terrain of adolescence.

Possessing a powerful emotional resonance, Emporte-moi is a simple yet lyrically conveyed story. The film effectively and unpretentiously deploys surreal montages, underwater images and dreamlike point-of-view shots to reflect the young girl's mental confusion and feelings of sensory overload. Hanna is played with great sensitivity and perception by Karine Vanasse, an incredibly expressive newcomer who infuses her character with a great deal of complexity.

A deeply captivating film fleshed out with personal detail and nuanced performances, Emporte-moi is as much a young girl’s coming-of-age tale as it is a portrait of the artist as a young girl. It was met with critical praise in Canada, Europe and major American markets and won a number of prestigious international awards, including a Special Jury Citation (Léa Pool) and Special Jury Congratulation (Karine Vanasse) at the Toronto International Film Festival® and a Special Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (Léa Pool) at the Berlin International Film Festival. It also received Genie Award nominations for Pool’s direction and original screenplay and was named Best Canadian Film by the Toronto Film Critics Association. The film won four Jutra Awards: Lead Actress (Vanasse), Art Direction (Serge Bureau, MichPle Hamel), Supporting Actress (Pascale BussiPres) and a Special Jutra awarded to Pool.

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