François Girard (b. 1963)
Le train (1985)
François Girard stunned English Canada in 1994 with his brilliant feature Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould, which won four Genies including best director and best picture. His career as a filmmaker started in Montreal a decade earlier when he founded Zone Productions, where he wrote and directed numerous experimental, architecture and dance films, in addition to music videos and video installations.
In 1990, he directed an adaptation of the theatrical spectacle Le dortoir by Gilles Maheu, for which he won an International Emmy, a Gold FIPA and a Prix Gemeau. After that, he focused on his ambitious first feature, Cargo (1990). Using a complex visual structure, the film examines death through the confusion of a man who finds himself inside a freighter after getting lost in a storm at sea. His critically acclaimed second feature Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould is structured in 32 parts and utilizes drama, documentary, animation and performance art to show insight into the life of an enigmatic Canadian genius. Those who had seen Le dortoir, Girard's award-winning collaboration with the dance troupe Carbone 14, were probably not surprised that Girard could score a victory with such difficult material.
His third feature, The Red Violin (1998) was another immense triumph, winning eight Genies (including best picture and best director) and an Oscar for best original soundtrack. The Red Violin, an ambitious fresco, recounts the story of a violin from its creation in Italy in the 17th century to its sale in Montreal at the end of the 20th century. Once again, Girard displays his mastery and easily conquers the challenge posed by creating a story that travels over four centuries and five cities. The Red Violin has become the most successful Canadian art house feature to date.
In between production of his first three features, Girard shot the concert film Peter Gabriel's Secret World in Italy, which won a Grammy for best music film, and directed "The Sound of Carceri," one of six episodes of the television series Yo Yo Ma, Inspired by Bach (1997). He also made his debut as an opera director with Symphony of Psalmes and Oedipus Rex by Igor Stravinski and Jean Cocteau. Oedipus won eight Dora Mavor Moore Awards in Toronto. His work in commercials has been rewarded with many prizes, and the Montreal Publicity Club named him director of the year in 1997.