Director Rafael Ouellet double-prize winner at Karlovy Vary

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Rafael Ouellett and his latest film, Camion, did more than emerge as a double-prize winner from the main competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The Quebec filmmaker’s fourth feature about a family reunited by a tragic car accident, which won the Ecumenical jury prize and a best director trophy for Ouellet on the weekend, vindicated Telefilm Canada’s strategy of sending homegrown films to foreign festivals to generate better career prospects and audience awareness back home.

“Festivals are an incredible launch pad for our filmmakers,” Telefilm Canada executive director Carole Brabant told Playback Daily after Ouellet’s prize-taking in the Czech Republic.

The director had already paved the way when his third feature, New Denmark, screened in 2009 at the festival.

“To see him return this year in the official competition and then garner two awards are a validation of his arrival on the world stage of directors to watch,” Brabant continued. She added Camion being examined and found worthy of trophies in a European spa town festival reflected well on Canadian filmmakers and their industry back home.

Similarly, previous Quebec films like Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies and Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar made their case for greater critical importance and commercial success across Canada when they first garnered awards on the international festival circuit. Both also made the Oscar foreign film short list in the last two years.