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Concordia film grad Vincent René-Lortie is off to the Oscars

‘An incredible moment I’ll never forget,’ says the director of Academy Award-nominated film Invincible
February 22, 2024
By Richard Burnett, BA 88

A man sits in a chair dressed in all black and a white shirt. He has long hair and facial hair and is seated in a photo studio with a backdrop and lighting. Filmmaker Vincent René-Lortie says his journey to the 2024 Academy Awards has been “a dream come true.” | Photo: William Daviau

Quebec filmmaker Vincent René-Lortie, BFA 17 (film production), and his colleagues jumped for joy when they heard that his debut narrative short Invincible (2022) had been nominated for an Oscar. 

“As soon as the announcer began to say Invincible, we all screamed and cried and jumped into each other’s arms,” says René-Lortie, who wrote and directed the 30-minute film produced by Telescope Films. “That was an incredible moment I will never forget.”

Invincible is one of five finalists in the Best Live Action Short Film category — which includes Wes Anderson’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley — whose winner will be announced at the 96th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on March 10.

Winner of the International Special Jury Prize at the prestigious 2023 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France, as well as the 2023 Iris Award for Best Short Fiction Film at the 25th Quebec Cinema Awards (formerly Jutra Awards), Invincible was inspired by the true story of René-Lortie’s childhood best friend Marc-Antoine Bernier, portrayed by actor Léokim Beaumier-Lépine. 

The film recounts the last 48 hours of Marc’s life. In his director’s statement, René-Lortie explains that Marc “tragically died at the age of 14 after driving a stolen car into a river. I will never forget the overwhelming feelings of sadness and incomprehension I felt that day.

“Through making this film, I found a way to dive into that dark, tragic abyss in order to better understand my friend and the decisions that led up to his death,” he adds. “I hope this film will raise more questions and draw awareness to the incomprehension that is still very strong in our society towards teenage mental health.” 
Lili Reinhart, the star of Riverdale who serves as executive producer of Invincible, told Variety, “Through Vincent’s storytelling, I was immediately pulled into our young Marc’s world. I could feel the desperation to escape his pain,” and referred to the short as a “deeply moving début for first-time filmmaker Vincent René-Lortie.”

Invincible is also the third film distributed by Montreal-based company h264 to get an Oscar nod, following the 2019 nominations of Fauve (2018) and Marguerite (2017), short films that were also created and produced by Concordia grads

Building ‘friendships and collaborations’ at Concordia

As a child, René-Lortie dreamed of working in the film industry. But the director and screenwriter originally wanted to be an actor. “It was a slow burn,” he recalls. “As I grew up, I became more shy and found it more difficult to be in front of a camera, so I made the transition to behind the camera.”

René-Lortie says his studies at Concordia’s renowned Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema helped shape his career. “It was a critical teaching experience. I had fantastic teachers and a few mentors. University was also a way to build friendships and collaborations,” he adds. 

“Some of these friends — such as Alexandre Nour Desjardins [BFA 17] who was my cinematographer on Invincible, and Simon Boissonneaux who was the film’s colourist — are still my collaborators today.”

Currently developing his debut feature film You Were Always An Island, René-Lortie looks forward to attending the Oscars in Los Angeles next month. “There are many things planned when you’re a nominee, such as the big lunch with fellow finalists. From that moment you get invited to other events. You get to stream your film at the academy — all of it leading up to the awards ceremony on March 10.”

René-Lortie takes a deep breath. “I’m taking it all in one step at a time,” he says. “All of this is a kid’s dream come true. I’m just very happy and so honoured by this recognition.”

Watch René-Lortie’s Oscar-bound short film Invincible:


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