Quebec coming-of-age tale 'Gabrielle' aims to please at TIFF
Louise Archambault poses for a photograph in a Toronto hotel room as she promotes the new movie 'Gabrielle' during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Chris Young)
Published Monday, September 9, 2013 2:41PM EDT
TORONTO -- Quebec filmmaker Louise Archambault admits her province's tight-knit film community may seem a little incestuous.
The francophone director lands at the Toronto International Film Festival with her coming-of-age tale, "Gabrielle," backed by the same team behind the Oscar-nominated films "Monsieur Lazhar" and "Incendies."
Archambault praises her producers for giving her the freedom to make the film she wanted, but dismisses any talk that "Gabrielle" could follow the same charmed trajectory of those two films.
Nevertheless, she's thrilled by the early reception so far -- which included an audience award at the Locarno film festival last month.
"Gabrielle" traces the burgeoning independence of a young woman with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition marked by developmental delays and strong social personalities.
It stars newcomer Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, who actually has Williams syndrome.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sept. 15.
"For me, when I make a film I don't think about (awards) beforehand," Archambault said Monday while seated at a downtown hotel for a round of interviews.
"After that, if there are some prizes, if there is something else, of course it's wonderful but I cannot make films for that."
Her festival visit included a night of celebration with "Incendies" director Denis Villeneuve, who has been collecting raves for his big-budget Hollywood debut, "Prisoners," also at the festival.
"Denis's a very, very good friend, he's my neighbour and his kids babysat my kids," said Archambault, whose first language is not English and who chose her words with care. "And so last night we were together and very happy for each other."
Archambault credited the Montreal-based production company Microscope with giving its directors free rein to pursue their visions.
"They let go their filmmakers in the way they want to go but they will give tools so you can achieve it," she said.
"Especially my film 'Gabrielle,' it's about a particular subject, they were always encouraging and trying to find ways to help me obtain my goal."
Before the Toronto festival, producer Luc Dery said he was especially impressed by the performance of Marion-Rivard, whose beaming smile proved infectious to anyone around her.
"She is so charming, she is so fun to be around and spontaneous and smart and touching," Dery said after the win in Locarno.
"I can see many people falling in love with her."