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Year: 2010
Language: French/ Arabic
Format: 35mm
Runtime: 130 minutes
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Producer: Luc Déry, Kim McCraw
Cinematographer: André Turpin
Editor: Monique Dartonne
Sound: Jean Umansky, Sylvain Bellemare, Jean-Pierre Laforce
Music: Grégoire Hetzel
Cast: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard
Production Designer: André-Line Beauparlant
Canadian Distributor: Les Films Christal
International Sales Agent: Entertainment One Films International

After completing his multiple Genie Award-winning Polytechnique (2009), Québec auteur Denis Villeneuve continued his acute examination of women in devastating situations with Incendies, a film of heart-wrenching tragedy, mythic proportions and sweeping visual majesty.

Upon the death of their mother, twins Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) learn that they have a father they thought was dead and a brother they never knew existed. 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 was 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.

Adapted from the acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad, with arresting cinematography by André Turpin and award-winning performances, Incendies proved to be the most emotionally expansive film in Villeneuve’s increasingly impressive oeuvre. The film had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and went on to play numerous major international festivals including Telluride, Toronto, Cannes, Sundance, Vancouver, Atlantic and Whistler. It won the award for best Canadian feature film at TIFF and the best Canadian feature prizes at the Vancouver and Atlantic festivals. Critics associations in Toronto and Vancouver named it the best Canadian film.

Incendies was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won eight Genie Awards, including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, and best performance by an actress in a leading role, as well as nine Jutras. It was also named one of Canada’s Top Ten films of 2010 by an independent panel of Canadian filmmakers, programmers, journalists, and industry professionals.

By: Agata Smoluch del Sorbo

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