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Filmmaker Salomé Villeneuve blazes own unique path

Venice Film Festival premiere of the cinema alumna’s short film III was ‘completely surreal’
January 27, 2023
By Richard Burnett, BA 88

Salomé Villeneuve stands in a field of tall green grass wearing a baseball cap and a surgical mask. She holds a film camera in her hands and to her left are three small children On the set of Villeneuve’s short film III: “Filming during COVID-19 was complex but, like everybody else, we followed and adapted to health measures and protocols on the set.” | Photo: Aziz Zoromba

At 26 years old, Quebec filmmaker Salomé Villeneuve, BFA 20, quickly caught the attention of the film world with her critically hailed 12-minute short III. The film had its world premiere in September 2022 at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, where it competed as the only Canadian entry in the Horizons competition.

“The experience was completely surreal,” says Villeneuve, a graduate of Concordia’s Film Production program. “Making the film was an extraordinary, all-consuming learning experience. I so was focused on making the film that when I learned it would premiere in Venice, it was an enormous surprise. I loved my experience at the festival, where I really enjoyed meeting other young and inspiring filmmakers.”

Among her major influences, Villeneuve cites such auteurs as Werner Herzog, Lynne Ramsay and Hayao Miyazaki.

“I had many filmmaking role models while growing up,” says Villeneuve. “When I was a teenager, I decided I wanted to make films, too, and was blown away by the visuals of Wong Kar-wai’s films — especially Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995) and Happy Together (1997). His work encouraged me to experiment with the camera.”

Villeneuve says that while her family did not watch television at home when she was growing up, they did watch films nearly every night of the week. “I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of those evenings with my parents — so much that I began writing stories.”

When she wrote III — which tells the story of three siblings who encounter death for the first time through contact with nature on a hot summer day — Villeneuve was partially inspired by her relationships with her two brothers. “I have always been fascinated by the dynamics of conflict, and my film allowed me to explore the intense emotions of childhood,” she says.

‘Fundamental know-how’ gained at Concordia

Salomé Villeneuve, BFA 20 | Photo: Fred Gervais Dupuis

Because she is still at the beginning of her career, Villeneuve says she doesn’t believe her trajectory has been made more difficult as a woman, yet is “well aware of the obstacles and appreciative of the trail blazed by women filmmakers before me.”

Currently writing the screenplay for her next film, Villeneuve says her time at Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema helped her hone her filmmaking skills and introduced her to other aspiring filmmakers, many of whom she remains in touch with.

“Concordia nourished my artistic universe through the panoply of films that we had the chance to watch on a big screen,” says Villeneuve, who began in film studies before transferring to film production.

“The lessons I learned gave me a sense of freedom in feeling that I have the fundamental know-how to make my way in the film world.”

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