'Imelda 2: Le Notaire' and 'Nadia, Butterfly' launch 10th QCFF

[Note from the Editor: This headline, text and photo captions have been corrected. ONLY 'Imelda 2: Le Notaire' was shown at the opening event.]

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

Robert Lepage (who portrays Jean Villeneuve in Imelda 2: Le Notaire), film director and writer Martin Villeneuve (who also plays the role of his grandmother, Imelda), and his father, Jean Villeneuve, proudly introduced one of Martin Villeneuve's two new Imelda short films at the opening of the 10th Quebec City Film Festival, which ran from Sept. 16 to 20.

The 10th Quebec City Film Festival (QCFF) opened at the Cinéplex Odéon in Sainte-Foy on Sept. 16 with Martin Villeneuve’s short film Imelda 2: Le Notaire starring Robert Lepage and Pascal Plante’s full-length feature film, Nadia, Butterfly.

Due to the second wave of COVID-19, the five-day festival went virtual, pleasing cinephiles across the province.

QCFF’s general manager Ian Gailer was all smiles. “We are holding the first red-carpet event of the pandemic era, a feat that feels great to achieve,” he said. The QCFF is counting its lucky stars to be in full, albeit virtual, swing.

“Going virtual is something that has been in the works for about five years, as a means to reach more cinephiles,” said Gailer. “It’s almost like attending a real festival. Once logged in to the festival website, you arrive at the lobby, leading to four virtual theatres…. Everything is ‘live,’ which means you have to be online when the film is scheduled, like watching TV [in ‘real’ time]. We are proud to continue to share our passion for the seventh art form with the public, and to invite them to discover movies they would not normally see, like Imelda.”

Filmmakers Martin and his brother Denis Villeneuve are the descendants of three generations of notaries. Mélanda “Imelda” Villeneuve was the quirky and incorruptible paternal grandmother. Martin has been impersonating her for years, originally to entertain family and friends.

Following her death in 2012, Martin listened to family and friends and created the short film Imelda in 2014. After its great success, he wrote a script for a feature film. He approached Robert Lepage to play Imelda’s son Jean [in Imelda 2: Le Notaire], and Ginette Reno to play Simone [in the sequel Imelda 3: Simone], but was unable to finance the project. Rather than abandon it, he rewrote it into two short films.

“Even though my grandmother passed away eight years ago, people are still talking about her,” said Villeneuve. “It is an incredible honour to have one of my short films presented at the red-carpet event of a film festival like the QCFF. We normally do not see or hear much about shorts, and so financing them is difficult.”

“I like doing comedy because I’m a comic in real life,” said renowned actor, playwright, stage and film director Robert Lepage. “I really liked the original script and accepted the part. It helps that I’ve known the Villeneuves for 20 years through various projects.” He continued, “During filming, Martin gave me a lot of freedom, although his father Jean, whom I was playing, was on site for the day. I like doing short films because it requires only one day of filming.”

Next to appear on the red carpet were the cast and crew of Nadia, Butterfly, which included Olympic swimmers Katerine Savard (who plays Nadia), Ariane Mainville (Marie-Pierre) and Hilary Caldwell (Karen), and writer and director Pascal Plante, who was once a national-level swimmer himself. After seeing the athletes interact at competitions and during casting, he knew he had found his main actors.

In Nadia, Butterfly, unlike in typical sports movies, the climactic medley relay race of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games takes place near the beginning. The film shows the strain on the lives of competitive swimmers outside the pool. Spectators get a sense of what it takes to be an Olympian: the solitude, stress, glamour, the constant presence of others and the pressure to win.

During filming in the summer of 2019, Plante faced challenges, including creating an identity for the upcoming Olympics. “We knew that we were making a parallel-reality movie based on swimmers competing in the 2020 Games. The movie was supposed to be shown in theatres during the Games [which have since been postponed to 2021],” he said. To complete the movie, Plante filmed in Montreal, which had hosted the 1976 Summer Games. Nadia, Butterfly is now in movie theatres.

 

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The cast and crew of Nadia, Butterfly were present at the movie’s première when the QCFF opened. Left to right are massage therapist Amélie Marcil Roy, Pierre-Yves Cardinal (Sébastien), Olympic swimmers Ariane Mainville (Marie-Pierre), Katerine Savard (Nadia) and Hilary Caldwell (Karen), unknown, producer Dominique Dussault and writer and director Pascal Plante.     Photo by Cassandra Kerwin