Sherbrooke resident Anh Minh Truong is getting ready to fulfill his life’s dream: to make his very first feature film. His film, men at night, will be produced entirely in the city where he grew up. It took 10 years to get there. The Sherbrooke resident, Dani Vermette, meanwhile, also dreams of cinema when she was rewarded last fall for her series U Hauling to London Web FestUK.
Their course is still far from being the same. Making movies was not what Anh Minh Truong’s parents aspired to for him.
In Vietnamese culture, any artistic career is frowned upon, specifies from the outset the one who was passionate about comics at a young age. He admits it candidly: the top of the class that he was could have embraced a professional career more focused on science. A choice he would have made to the detriment of his happiness.
At one point I said to my aunt: “You have a choice. Either I become a doctor and I’m unhappy, or I go into the arts and I’m happy”. It was inevitable, I couldn’t do anything else. Now self-employed, he earns his living doing what he loves, even if it requires a lot of sacrifices. He has, to date, about twenty short and medium-length films, about fifty various productions such as commercials, music videos and television series. He has also received several distinctions, including a nomination for the Prix Gémeaux and a prize at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois.
” My parents are still proud of me today. They see it working. They don’t care if I’m going to eat this week. Maybe a little more at first, but not anymore. »
Dani, for her part, is not yet making a living as a director. Her film projects developed alongside her work as an editor at Radio-Canada Montréal. The one who has been writing since she was young is currently preparing the script for her first feature film. The sting, in her case, she got it in high school thanks to a teacher. Noting that his texts have a cinematic style, he invites him to join his school’s film program. At 14, she wrote the screenplay for a zombie film, and this first experience somehow crystallized her passion for the seventh art.
I was super embarrassed. It really took me out of my bubble and that’s what made me fall in love with cinemashe says.
Make cinema a reflection of its identity
Today, the question of identity is at the heart of the themes addressed by the two directors, but the influences are different.
Dani strives to make cinema rooted in his reality, that of the LGBTQ+ community, such as his web series U-Hauling, which explores the stages of loving mourning in a homosexual couple.
I had a lot to exult at the base when writing the screenplay, she explains. There are a lot of little teenage tantrums that went through that. I started from something that was very personal. From a breakup that had happened to me.
She has also ensured that this diversity is expressed not only on screen, but also behind the camera, by forming a multi-gender work team.
We really had a team like I had never seen, underlines Dani. It really made a difference in the group spirit, for the actresses and actors. We just felt like we were in our little community too, because there were a lot of people who were part of the community. queer.
” As with most identity issues, in cinema, we tend to sprinkle characters with cultural, sexual or identity diversity, but without really taking our reality into consideration. »
For Anh Minh, cinema is an introspective art that allows him to understand who he is in relation to others. It even became a
identity quest for one who was raised by his aunt and grandparents after his parents divorced. His Asian origins are gradually integrated into his cinematographic career. Only recently did he come up with a script featuring Vietnamese characters, which will feature in an upcoming film.
At the beginning, I didn’t really like being categorized as a Sherbrooke filmmaker and I especially didn’t want to be categorized as an immigrant filmmaker.
For much of his life, Anh Minh did not see himself as a Vietnamese. Arriving in Quebec at the age of one, it was the birth of his children that brought his origins back to the fore. As in the cinema, he needed images to convince himself of who he was.
My daughter was born. I saw his name on a sheet and I said to myself: “Oh yes, his last name is not Tremblay”. When I looked at her in a mirror, I said to myself: “My little girl is not from Quebec. She has Vietnamese blood”.
” When I had my children, I began to understand what my parents went through. They arrived here, immigrants, with two children in their arms. Quietly, it brought me back a little the pain, the suffering, the tearing they experienced. »
The future projects of the two filmmakers are always guided by this question of identity. Masculinity is the angle developed in Ahn Minh Truong’s feature debut, which is set to begin filming on May 20. men at night is entirely financed in Estrie and all stages of production will be 100% local, a first according to the writer/director who was refused funding from SODEC and Telefilm Canada.
Dani, on the other hand, writes a story grounded in reality queer, which takes place behind closed doors in a chalet.
It’s about wanting, in a marginalized community, to always be at the forefront of things. to be wokeeven if the term these days is not [toujours bien perçu]. To always want to be the most evolved person in the room [alors que parfois] it conflicts with our inner demons.
I think it goes back to the basic principle of cinema, adds Anh Minh. The more you do something that is unique to you, the more universal it is. When you talk about yourself in an intimate way and you are convinced of your identity, it will speak to everyone.