Updated: Two Canadian films selected for Directors’ Fortnight competition at Cannes

Updated: Two Canadian films selected for Directors’ Fortnight competition at Cannes

MONTREAL — Filmmaker Kim Nguyen was happy the secret could finally come out.

The Montreal director found out several weeks ago his “Two Lovers and a Bear” had been chosen to be part of the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival next month.

The lineup was finally announced on Tuesday — and Nguyen was thrilled at being able to talk about it.

“I’ve been biting my hands so as not to speak about it,” he told a news conference in Montreal.

Nguyen will be joined in Cannes by Toronto’s Nathan Morlando, whose “Mean Dreams” will also screen at the prestigious independent series that runs parallel to the main festival.

Nguyen’s fifth feature film, which stars Dane DeHaan and Tatiana Maslany, deals with two young tormented souls in a small town near the North Pole who fall in love and decide to strike out to find inner peace.

“Mean Dreams” is a thriller about a 15-year-old boy who steals a bag of drug money and runs away with the girl he loves while her corrupt cop father hunts them down. Its cast includes Sophie Nelisse, Josh Wiggins, Bill Paxton and Colm Feore.

Nguyen, who was nominated for an Oscar for his critically acclaimed 2012 child-soldier drama “Rebelle” (“War Witch”), recounted the challenges of filming in Timmins, Ont., and Nunavut.

“This was a story that we absolutely decided we had to do in the Arctic,” he said, adding green screens and studio settings wouldn’t do.

That meant dealing with wild weather: temperatures sometimes dipped to between -40 C and -50 C with very high winds.

“It came to the point where my makeup artist would literally grab my shoulder and say ‘you have 30 seconds’,” Nguyen said. He also described a scene — a sort of homage to water skiing — that featured Maslany skiing on the ice and being pulled by a snowmobile.

“She literally had 30 seconds before risking severe frostbite on her face,” Nguyen said.

Film staff also bore the brunt, with Nguyen recounting the bravery of the first assistant cameraman, who had to take his gloves off to remove lenses and handle equipment and ended up with wounds where skin had fused to metal.

“That’s how cold it was,” Nguyen said. “But at the same time, it was very rewarding to be there and to have the actual real steam coming from their mouths.”

Producer Roger Frappier paid tribute to DeHaan and Maslany, who never complained about the extreme weather.

“(They) were always ready,” Frappier said. “It was really fantastic to work with those two actors who had to learn a lot of things: driving Ski-Doos, being outside when it was really, really cold, working with the bear.”

The film employed a real polar bear with previous movie experience. It was driven from Vancouver for the film.

Theatregoers in Quebec and Canada should be able to see it by the end of 2016.

Quebec director Xavier Dolan’s “Juste la fin du monde” (“It’s Only the End of the World”) was selected last week to be in the running for the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the official competition at Cannes.

The festival runs May 11-22.

Magdaline Boutros, The Canadian Press

Categories: Arts & Culture

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