by Sarah Jamieson
Sophie Goyette knows that cinema is art, and that art necessitates trying new things; it’s the same vision that won her the Bright Future Award in 2017 at the Rotterdam Film Festival.
“The programmers told me afterwards that it was the first time ever [in 46 years] that a Canadian feature had won a professional prize at their festival,” Goyette says. “It was a true honour.”
The Québécois writer-director expands on that same ambition with her first feature film, Mes Nuits Feront Écho (Still Night, Still Light). The film flows seamlessly between narratives divided into three chapters, each told from the view of a separate protagonist. Often, the camera follows behind them in one long shot. The result is a profound, vulnerable, and dreamy film.
Still Night, Still Light centers around three characters. Éliane (Éliane Préfontaine) leaves her dead-end job as a birthday party princess, taking her musical talent to Mexico. There, she teaches piano to children, among them the son of Romes (Gerardo Trejoluna). Romes shares his regrets with Éliane, eventually deciding to travel with his father, Pablo (Felipe Casanova), to Beijing. When they get there, Pablo reveals his love for the woman he met before Romes’ mother, wondering what their life would be have been like if they had stayed together.
The movie was a hit at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). A few Vancouverites even tipped their hat to the director after the premiere.
“I was very touched by the words of actress Deragh Campbell from Fail to Appear and producer Tyler Hagan and director Kathleen Hepburn from Never Steady, Never Still,” says Goyette. Goyette speaks fondly of Vancouver for its participatory nature when supporting artists, and she’s excited to see what the city creates in terms of cinema.
The director recently won the Prix Collégial du Cinéma Québécois for Still Night, Still Light – to win such acclaim is no small feat, as the event only features five films. Students from 54 colleges will view, discuss, and choose their favourite films in February.
Still Night, Still Light is a poetic tribute to the Canadian Film canon. The movie questions the foundation of happiness; it forces us to squint into the light of daily life, and strain a little harder to see meaning in the dark.
The movie screens February 1-4 at Cinematheque.