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Two Quebec short-film directors mark first Oscar nominations together


TORONTO — Two Quebec filmmakers celebrated in solidarity on Tuesday after learning they were both Academy Award nominees for the first time.

While directors Marianne Farley and Jeremy Comte will compete against each other for best live action short at the Oscars next month, they set aside those competitive sentiments to focus on comradery at their distributor's Montreal headquarters.

Our "films are just so unique and so different, there was a place for both of them," said Farley, who's in the running with "Marguerite," the story of an elderly woman who befriends her nurse and begins to face certain truths about her past.

Comte's film "Fauve" captures a moment in the lives of two young boys from Thetford Mines, Que., as they compete in a game of power and deception that spirals out of control.

Ahead of the Oscar unveiling, production staff for each film gathered in the same office, dividing themselves into different rooms to cheer for their own titles.

Both teams learned only a few seconds apart they were nominated in the same category.

Comte, 28, says he was "jumping in the air" at the news, while he heard even louder noises coming from the other room.

"I screamed," Farley admits. "I told myself I wasn't going to, but I think I kind of screamed."

The nominations mark a high point for both filmmakers, who have collected an array of accolades over the past year.

Among the most notable wins for "Fauve" was the special jury award at the Sundance Film Festival. "Marguerite" swept through numerous international film festivals, picking up the jury and audience awards at most of them. 

Farley began her career as an actress, playing roles in TV series "19-2," "This Life" and "Bellevue," but more recently shifted her focus to a filmmaking career. She says one of her goals with "Marguerite" was to tell a story that hasn't been told.

"I wanted to bring to screen different female characters, the kind of characters we don't see often enough," she said.

"(The short film) is written and directed by a woman, produced by a woman and both the main characters are women... (it's) a very delicate, feminine approach, both in the way it's shot and the storyline."

The perspective of "Fauvre" is more intense, driven by the performances of its two young newcomers Felix Grenier and Alexandre Perreault, who engage in an escalating power struggle. Both boys were selected from more than 50 students who auditioned at 12 schools around Quebec, Comte said.

It's the second short film the Concordia University graduate has directed, and he says the script was inspired by a recurring nightmare from his childhood.

"It's all about these young boys trying to prove themselves — this machismo emotion," he said.

Comte says he's excited about his nomination, but the two young actors might share an even greater anticipation for the big night on Feb. 24.

When he called the boys to congratulate them on being part of an Oscar-nominated film, they both could hardly contain their excitement.

"They're over the moon right now," he said.

"For them it seems so far away, and now they're going to the Oscars. They're just so happy."

 

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David Friend, The Canadian Press

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