This film, directed by Denis Villeneuve, was released on February 6, 2009. An English version was released shortly afterward, on March 20, in several Canadian cities.
This film, directed by Denis Villeneuve, was released on February 6, 2009. An English version was released shortly afterward, on March 20, in several Canadian cities. It was actor Karine Vanasse who first had the idea of bringing the tragedy that took place inside the walls of the Université de Montréal's École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989 to the screen. Concerned that this horrific event remain in the collective memory, and despite some controversy, she strongly believed in this film project, and approached Denis Villeneuve for his cinematographic skills and sensitivity.
Shot in black and white, and showing great respect for the victims and their families, the film recounts the actual events of the unfortunate winter evening when, within the walls of the Polytechnique, a deranged killer went from one classroom to the next, asked the boys to leave and then turned on the female students and discharged his firearm. This murderous madness took the lives of fourteen students and of the killer himself. The film is based on testimony from those who experienced it, and with their consent, families of the victims. Denis Villeneuve knew how to give the film a very moving and emotional tone without dwelling on its morbid side or descending into voyeurism. The images have a simplicity that suggests rather than shows both the torment of the killer - who is never named - as well as the terror of the students and the feelings of betrayal, desertion, and impotence that the boys, who themselves were saved, felt. The sound track supports the unsupportable and takes the angry and agitated viewer in hand.
Actor Maxim Gaudette shoulders the role of the killer with respect and intensity. His simple reflective portrayal and his accurate and resonant intonation, which is never overdone, adds a crucial dimension to the film. At the 12th Jutra gala (March 2010) Maxim Gaudette won best supporting actor. Karine Vanasse plays her role as the surviving student with panache.
The film was honoured with several 2010 Jutra Awards: best photography, best editing and best sound. For his superb work Denis Villeneuve won best director.
The film won the honour of best motion picture at the 2010 Genie Awards, and was further awarded the distinction of several other Genies: best original screenplay, achievement in cinematography, achievement in editing, achievement in overall sound, and sound editing. Denis Villeneuve received best director, while Maxim Gaudette and Karine Vanasse were honoured with best performance by an actor in a supporting role and best performance by an actress in a leading role, respectively.