DENIS VILLENEUVE
BACKGROUND
 Born in a suburb outside of Quebec, Canada
 Originally held an interest in science, but abandoned it to
focus on a career in film
 Studied film at Université du Québec à Montréa, where he
received the opportunity to direct several projects,
including a short television documentary, La course
destination monde (1988).
 He also learned to speak English while attending
Université du Québec à Montréa.
JOURNEY TO RELEVANCE
 After directing La course destination monde, Denis entered the Radio-Canada Youth Film Competition, and
won.
 He continued to work on short films that were financed solely by himself, including REW-FFWD (1994),
and Cosmos (1996).
 In 1998, Denis entered his first feature film, Un 32 Août Sur Terre, into the Cannes Film Festival, where it
was received positively.
 In 2000, Denis directed Maelstrom, which received much critical success, as well as a great deal of
international awards.
 After taking a decade long break from directing, Denis directed Polytechnique (2009), followed by
Incendies (2010), which also received many awards, including an Academy Award nomination for Best
Foreign Film.
 Once he became an established Canadian director, Denis was given the opportunity to direct his first
Hollywood film, Prisoners (2013), which received much critical success.
 Denis followed Prisoners with the independent film, Enemy (2013), which further emphasized his versatility
when working with different film genres.
DIRECTING STYLE
 Thrives in directing drama, emphasizing
dramatic scenes with bleak use of color,
long shots, and the noticeable use of closeups.
 Known for the frequent use of handheld
camerawork in his films.
 Portrays realistic, graphic violence
frequently, using steady camera work and
focus to give the violence an authentic feel.
 Uses bleak yet intense musical scores to
emphasize dramatic scenes, and often
includes a song from his favorite band,
Radiohead, in many of his films.
 Clip from Prisoners
FILMOGRAPHY
 La course destination monde (TV documentary) (1988)
 REW-FFWD (short) (1994)
 Cosmos (short) (1996)
 Un 32 août sur terre (1998)
 Maelstrom (2000)
 120 Seconds to Get Elected (short) (2006)
 Next Floor (short) (2008)
 Polytechnique (2009)
 Incendies (2010)
 Etude empirique sur l'influence du son sur la persistance rétinienne (short) (2011)
 Prisoners (2013)
 Enemy (2013)
AWARDS
 BAFTA Awards – Best Foreign Film (Nominee) –
Incendies (2010)
 Cannes Film Festival – Canal+ Award (Winner) –
Next Floor (2008); Discovery Award (Nominee) Next Floor (2008)
 Genie Awards – Canadian Screen Award (Winner)
– Enemy (2013); Best Achievement in Direction
(Winner) – Incendies (2010); Best Adapted
Screenplay (Winner) – Incendies (2010); Best
Achievement In Direction (Winner) –
Polytechnique (2009); Best Live Action Short
Drama (Winner) – Next Floor (2008); Best
Achievement In Direction (Winner) – Maelstrom
(2000); Best Screenplay (Winner) – Maelstrom
(2000)
POLYTECHNIQUE (2009)
 Captures the shooting of Montreal’s Ecole
Polytechnique Engineering School.
 Depicts the shooting from three separate viewpoints.
 Praised for its graphic and realistic depiction of the
violence that the victims of the shooting underwent.
 Received generally positives reviews, as well as 16 award
wins & another 7 nominations.
 Trailer
INCENDIES (2010)
 Adaptation of a Lebanese-Canadian play that depicts
the journey of two twins to the Middle East after the
passing of their mother.
 Praised for adding originality to an already established
story, perfectly capturing the dramatic aspects of the
story.
 Received immense positive reviews, as wells as 38
award wins, and 11 award nominations, including an
Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language
Film.
 Trailer
PRISONERS (2013)
 Denis’ first Hollywood feature, starred big name actors
Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Terrance Howard.
 Tells the story of two children from two separate
families kidnapped on Thanksgiving, and the lengths
that their parents go to in order to find them.
 Praised for its cinematography, excellent handling of
tension, complex morally-centered plot, and engrossing
camerawork.
 Received 9 award wins, and 25 award nominations,
including an Academy Award nomination for Best
Achievement in Cinematography.
 Trailer
ENEMY (2013)
 An independent film with no wide release, but stars actor
Jake Gyllenhaal.
 Tells the story of a man who discovers that he is living in the
same city as another man who looks and talks exactly like
him
 Is unlike any film before it, and masterfully manipulates
reality, and what the audience perceives to be real.
 Praised for its use of symbolism, and unconventional
directing techniques.
 Although it received mixed critical reviews and little financial
success, the film still received 10 award wins and 6
nominations, and already has an established cult following.
 Trailer
FUTURE IN FILM
 With the critical success of films like
Polytechnique and Incendies, as well
as the financial success of Prisoners,
Denis has established himself as an
important director, and has proven
that he can handle directing both
Hollywood blockbusters as well as
message-central indie films.
 Currently working on two more
Hollywood blockbusters, Story of Your
Life, and Sicario, as well as another
indie film, American Darling, all
scheduled to be released within the
next 3 years.
SOURCES
 http://www.imdb.com/
 http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/534110%7C0/DenisVilleneuve/biography.html
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Villeneuve
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Denis Villeneuve - Cleveland State University